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Nepal LGBT travel

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LGBTQ Nepal

Gay travellers don’t always have it easy, especially in Asia where local culture and local laws often prohibit open homosexuality. Nepal once held the same reputation and laws, and stories of discrimination were not uncommon, especially amongst Maoist leaders and insurgents who once declared homosexuality as a “social pollutant”.

Over the past decade in particular, Nepal has made major efforts to improve LGBTQ rights within the country, and this more liberal attitude has made it one of the most gay-friendly countries in South Asia.

You’ll notice it from the moment you fill in you landing card – that little box marked “other” in the gender section. It’s a small thing to most, but for travellers who identify differently, this is a big deal.

Nepal arrival card with other gender option highlighted

Table of Contents

Nepal constitutional changes

Homosexuality was officially legalised in Nepal in 2007, ending a long history of gay people having to fear prosecution for their sexuality. In 2015, further changes were written into the constitution, allowing people to identify by the “third gender” on their citizenship documents.

People from gender and sexual minorities also found their rights enhanced by the changes. Discrimination on these grounds would now be prohibited by law, with further allowances made to empower LGBTQ citizens, including cementing their rights to participate in all state mechanisms and public services.

Same-sex marriage was also raised as future “topic of intention”, although this is still not currently allowed in Nepal.

Overview of gay rights in Nepal

  • Gay Activity: Legal
  • Lesbian Activity: Legal
  • Same-sex Marriage: Not currently legal – raised as topic for future discussion
  • Same-Sex Adoption: Not currently legal for couples, although single gay people can adopt
  • Right to Change Gender: Legal, but requires surgery
  • Non-binary gender recognition: Recognised
  • LGBT Discrimination: Illegal in some contexts
  • Censorship: No censorship
  • Military or public service: Allowed
  • Employment discrimination: Illegal
  • Housing discrimination: Illegal
  • Age of Consent: Equal (16)

(source: Equaldex)

Cultural changes

Changes in a population’s attitude are a slower process, of course, but in recent years public shows of support have become more common, including the now annual Nepal Pride Parade held each year in Kathmandu on the second Saturday of June. Nepal’s first openly gay bar, PINK Tiffany, opened in 2015 in Kathmandu.

The Blue Diamond Society also organise a separate Pride event every August or September, coinciding with the Gai Jatra festival and demanding equal rights for the LGBTQ community in a colourful and peaceful march through Kathmandu.

In more rural communities and older generations, attitudes have been slower to change, but travellers are unlikely to encounter hostility.

Nepal Pride Parade
People enjoying Nepal Pride Parade (from nepalprideparade.com)

Can I be openly gay in Nepal?

In short, yes. You shouldn’t feel afraid to be open about your sexuality, but apply your own judgement, of course.

In fact, in Nepali culture it is common for men to be quite affectionate with each other and hold hands in public, even if both men are straight. It is just a show of friendship and being comfortable with each other, so people are unlikely to raise an eyebrow if you do the same.

It’s worth noting, however, that Nepal is a conservative and deeply religious country. Regardless of gender or sexual orientation, overly passionate public displays of affection are not appreciated and could cause offence, so best to save that for the hotel.

On that subject, it’s not uncommon for same-sex couples to book a double room and be given a twin instead. For the most part, the hotel employee has probably assumed you made a mistake with your booking and tried to correct it, rather than it being any kind of anti-gay statement. Open same-sex relationships are still relatively new and unexpected for many Nepalis.

To avoid this, just add a simple note to your reservation if you’re booking online, or let your tour agency know so that they can communicate this for you.

Is there a gay scene in Nepal?

Yes, but not a big one. As previously mentioned, there are gay pride events in Kathmandu, where Nepal’s fledgling gay scene is centred.

Currently Nepal’s only actual gay bar, PINK Tiffany was opened by famous transgender model Meghna Lama in 2015. It is probably fair to say that this is the centre of the Kathmandu LGBTQ community venue-wise, and at night it becomes one of the liveliest and friendliest places for travellers to mix with the local scene.

Other venues also attract mixed and gay-friendly crowds, and there’s a famous gay night every Friday at Fire Club in Thamel, too. You can check out a few more gay-friendly going out options here.

Outside Kathmandu, there is no real gay scene to speak of.

Are there LGBTQ tours in Nepal?

There are some companies offering LGBTQ group tours in Nepal, although to be honest we don’t know them well enough to recommend their services. Generally, these tours follow the same routes as a standard tour but encourage gay travellers in particular.

LGBTQ travellers won’t be discriminated against by any decent, modern travel operator nowadays so all options are open, and you could even create your own custom group tour. Feel free to contact us if you have some ideas, and we’ll put you in touch with the right people.

In summary

There’s still some way to go for gay rights in Nepal, but the progress made in the past 15 years makes it one of the safest and most welcoming Asian destinations for LGBTQ+ travellers.

If you have any further questions or want some help booking your own Nepal adventure, feel free to get in touch with our team.

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