Nepal hosts Asia’s first public lesbian marriage


Making it Asia’s first public lesbian wedding, an American lesbian couple tied the knot on Monday afternoon at the Dakshinkali temple, on the outskirts of Kathmandu.

Courtney Mitchell and Sarah Welton entered into wedlock, that even in a Hindu ceremony. Priest Upendra Lamichhane chanted Hindu mantras in front of a crowd of guests and onlookers, formalising the start of the same-sex couple’s second inning of life.

Courtney, dressed in a typical Nepali groom’s outfit of Daura and Suruwal and Sarah, in a red sari, were elated beyond words. The ceremony was attended by a troop of journalists and a large number of LGBTIs (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender and Intersexes) from inside and outside the country, guests of the couple from the US as well as local residents.

Courtney, who had stayed in Nepal between the late 1990s and early 2000s, said his happiness knew no bounds by marrying the woman, whom “she loves more than anything in life”. “I had lived in Nepal for a long time. I stayed here first as a Peace Corps volunteer and then while working with the UN’s World Food Programme. Thus, both of us wanted to contribute for the rights of LGBTIs in Nepal and also help promote Nepal’s tourism,” she said elucidating the reason the couple chose Nepal over other lucrative foreign destinations for their wedding.

Pink Mountain Travel and Blue Diamond Society (BDS) had jointly organised the marriage ceremony. The US state of Colorado, the couple’s home state, has not recognised gay marriage yet although a number of other states in the US already have. This reason is said to have prompted the couple to search for possible destinations outside their country.

Sunil Babu Panta, a Constituent Assembly member and a LGBTI rights activist who attended the wedding, said the marriage ceremony was an opportunity to prove Nepal’s credential as a lucrative destination for third gender tourism. “We are happy that they have chosen Nepal for their wedding over other possible destinations in the world. This ceremony is yet another example of the Nepali society’s openness to embracing the third genders and their activities,” said Panta, who is associated with both Pink Mountain Travels and BDS.

Earlier, the couple had received a grand welcome at the Tribhuvan International Airport by LGBTI society in Nepal upon their arrival on Friday. On Saturday, the couple remained busy shopping jewelleries and dresses in the Capital.

Posted on: 2011-06-21 08:28