Nepal could soon be the first country in Asia to legalise same sex marriage if recommendations of an expert committee are accepted and adopted by the country's government.
A committee of experts formed in 2010 to study the feasibility of same sex marriages submitted its report to chief secretary Lila Mani Poudyal in Kathmandu on Monday.
Headed by former health secretary Laxmi Raj Pathak, the committee recommended change in existing laws to allow marriages between people of same gender.
It also sought the state to provide safety to same sex couples like heterosexual ones and protection to their children.
"This is such fantastic news. The report is very good and is based on justice and equality," said Sunil Babu Pant, prominent LGBT activist and Nepal's first openly gay lawmaker.
Apart from guaranteeing equal rights, the committee has asked the government to change criminal and civil laws that criminalises 'unnatural sex' and discriminates sexual and gender minorities.
"Once the law is enacted people belonging to sexual and gender minorities will be free from entering into forced heterosexual marriages," said Pant, who is the founder of Blue Diamond Society, Nepal's first NGO fighting for LGBT rights.
In a landmark decision in 2007, Nepal's Supreme Court had asked the government to provide equal rights to sexual minorities, but lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender are still denied those rights.
Sexual minorities can register themselves as 'other' in citizenship certificates, passports and voter identity cards, but many still face obstacles in getting these documents due to apathy of government officials.