Religious leaders condemn gay marriage

Outrage at tourists' 'superficial' ceremony at Hindu temple in capital
Religious leaders condemn gay marriage
The ceremony in a temple in Kathmandu
Two female American tourists in Kathmandu have sparked outrage among religious groups in the predominantly Hindu country by holding a gay marriage ceremony at a temple in the capital. The pair were married on June 20 during a traditional Nepalese ceremony presided over by a Hindu priest at the popular Dakshinkali temple in southern Kathmandu. They flew to Nepal on June 17 from Colorado, where gay marriage is not legal, to prepare for what gay and lesbian activists in Nepal have called “Asia’s first pink knot.” Damodar Gautam, president of Nepal’s World Hindu Foundation, and head of the multi-faith Inter-Religious Council, called the marriage “unnatural.” “Anyone who believes in God can easily see through such superficial functions,” he said. Nepal’s Supreme Court ruled in 2008 to guarantee full rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and to deem all gender minorities as “natural persons” under the law. The ruling included the right for LGBTs to marry. The country currently has an interim constitution, which provides for a constituent assembly tasked with drafting a long-awaited permanent constitution. Though the Supreme Court has approved of same-sex marriage, the government has yet to enact laws guaranteeing the right. Activists say they hope the permanent constitution will include specific protections. Piya Ratna, chief coordinator of the interfaith group Religious Youth Service and a Buddhist, criticized the manner in which the couple organized their union. “American women flying into Nepal and going to a Hindu temple after dressing themselves in bright, local Nepalese clothes as bride and groom, and then having religious verses read out in Sanskrit by a so-called priest in front of the media is a misuse of religion, culture and also media,” he said. Dozens of Americans and local members of Nepal’s LGBT community attended the ceremony, along with Sunil Babu Pant, the country’s first publicly gay lawmaker who has become a leading gay rights activist in South Asia. Pant also heads a travel company promoting Nepal as a destination for gay couples and marking luxury wedding and honeymoon accommodations.
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