August 2023 | New National Cybersecurity Policy raises digital rights concerns
Nepal's cabinet approved a new National Cyber Security Policy on 8 August, aimed at establishing a secure online environment for users. While welcomed by some advocates for being the first data protection policy of its kind in Nepal, digital rights experts have voiced concerns regarding specific aspects of the policy that pose a threat to internet freedom and information access. The most concerning provision is "Strategy 11.25," which suggests the creation of a government-controlled intranet and national internet gateway, likened by some critics to practices seen in China and Cambodia. Rights experts caution that such gateways could enable censorship and surveillance, potentially compromising data privacy. Additionally, civil society organizations have criticized the limited public consultation that preceded the policy's introduction. It remains to be seen how the new policy will be translated into law.
June 2023 | Same-sex marriage recognized in landmark interim ruling
Nepal’s Supreme Court (SC) issued a groundbreaking interim order on 28 June instructing the government to allow the registration of same-sex marriages, setting up a temporary registry for applicant couples pending a final verdict. It remains unclear when the parliament will officially pass a marriage equality law, however, rights activists have hailed the SC order as a huge step forward toward achieving marriage equality, with hopes that legislation will follow. Conversely, reports of District Courts finding legal ways to not comply with the order have emerged. Human rights experts have urged parliament to act quickly on amending the law and providing further guidance.
May 2023 | Supreme Court orders government to recognize same-sex marriage
The Supreme Court on 2 May instructed the government to legally recognize the same-sex foreign spouse of a Nepali citizen, along with broader recognition of same-sex relationships. The case was brought by a gay couple, a Nepali and German citizen who were legally married in Germany but denied in their request for recognition in Nepal. The court ruled that failing to do so is a violation of the constitution and recommended that the government re-examine a 2015 court-ordered report that includes suggested legal changes in ensuring marriage equality. The landmark ruling builds on previous judgments recognizing the rights of LGBTQIA+ individuals, marking a significant step toward ensuring LGBTQIA+ equality.
March 2023 | Ram Chandra Paudel elected as new president
On 9 March, Nepal’s members of parliament and provincial assemblies voted to elect Nepali Congress (NC) party leader Ram Chandra Paudel as the country’s new president. The move follows Nepal’s national election held in November 2022, which delivered a hung parliament and a fragile coalition government. Paudel’s appointment aligns with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s power-sharing decision to support NC’s candidate over his initial Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist coalition partner. Analysts have noted this “marks a return to the pre-poll alliance of 2022.”