Nepal introduces transgender category on ICs

KATHMANDU (AFP) - Transgender citizens in Nepal will no longer have to describe themselves as male or female on their national identity cards under a new government regulation, an official said on Wednesday.

Bhola Siwakoti, a senior official in the home ministry, said that its offices across the country had been instructed to allow people to register as "a third gender" when completing their citizenship certificates.

"We have sent circulars to our district administrative offices in all 75 districts to implement this new regulation. From now on, anyone who wants such an identity can apply for one," Mr Siwakoti told AFP.

The move comes more than five years after Nepal's Supreme Court ordered the government to enact laws to guarantee the rights of transgender, gay, lesbian and bisexual people. The government-issued citizenship certificates, which serve as national ID cards, are required to open bank accounts, sell and buy property, apply for a job and to get a passport.

Sunil Babu Pant, director of Blue Diamond Society, a gay rights group, welcomed the government decision. "This decision has made it easier for those who don't identify themselves as male or female and want a category broadly called 'third gender'," Mr Pant told AFP.

"We have won half of our battle. It has paved the way for our struggle in other areas," Mr Pant said.

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