Passports for third gender


Nepal has started issuing passports to sexual minorities, adding a third-gender category in the passports.

Manoj Shahi, a transgender of Lamki Municipality, Kailali, is set to become the first recipient of category “O” passport in Nepal.

The Department of Passport has issued a passport in the original name of Manoj Shahi. However, Shahi now prefers to be called Monica Shahi after gender transformation.

“Passport is ready. We have called Shahi to receive it,” said Sharad Aran, Director, DoP.

Monica is likely to receive the document in the presence of representative of Blue Diamond Society, a leading gay rights group, on Friday.

Nepal had so far been issuing passports under only male (codified as M) and Female (codified by F) categories.

A decision was taken early this year to provide passports to all sexual minorities, commonly known as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGTBT) under others (codified as O) category. Nepal also issues citizenship certificate to all sexual minorities under others or “O” category.

Nevertheless, one cannot get category “O” category passports just being a sexual minority. The person must have a citizenship certificate under “O” category prior to applying for the passport under this category.

Director Aran told The Himalayan Times that all those who had acquired citizenship certificates under “O” category can now apply and acquire separate passport matching their identity. Nepal had to amend its passport regulations and existing Machine Readable Passport technology in order accommodate the category. The Supreme Court had ordered the authorities in 2007 to amend laws to provide citizenship certificates by amending the concerned laws.

Talking to THT, Monica thanked the government for issuing passport recognising her identity. “This is a very welcoming move. It is a huge recognition for all sexual minorities of Nepal,” she added. With this move, Nepal has joined a handful of countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, that recognise third gender in passports. Australia and New Zealand issue passports to sexual minorities with a gender sign “X”.

Manisha Dhakal, Executive Director of Blue Diamond Society, welcomed the start of the passport issuance to sexual minorities. She called all the countries to acknowledge Nepal’s decision and facilitate the trans-border travel of Nepalis having “O” category passports.