[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Nepal [official website] has directed the country's government to end sexual orientation-based discrimination and to extend equal rights to gender minorities, including same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive]. The order, made Monday, came in a lawsuit brought by several gay rights groups and follows a December 2007 ruling [BBC report] recognizing homosexuals as citizens under the classification "third sex." The latest decision requires that all gender minorities must be defined as "natural persons" under the law [UK Gay News report] and directs the Nepalese government to form a committee to draft a same-sex partnership and marriage act based on legislation in other countries. Sunil Babu Pant, Nepal's first openly gay Member of Parliament [NYT report] and an outspoken proponent of gay rights [Express India report], called the ruling a "landmark decision." The Hindustan Times has more.
Same-sex marriage is recognized in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, and Norway. In October, the Portuguese parliament voted overwhelmingly against proposals to legalize same-sex marriage [JURIST report]. In the US, same-sex marriages are now permitted in Massachusetts and Connecticut [JURIST report]. Earlier this month, same-sex marriage bans passed [JURIST report] in California, Arizona, and Florida, leading to nationwide demonstrations [New York Times report; JURIST report] and a call from California's Attorney General [JURIST report] for the California Supreme Court to examine challenges to the ban's legality.