Nepal became the latest in a growing list of countries that recognize a third gender last week, announcing that a third gender option will be added on their passports.
The announcement follows a 2007 Supreme Court ruling in Nepal that ordered the government authorities to amend laws to recognize transgendered individuals.
Speaking of the announcement, Lok Bahadur, head of Nepal’s passport department, told Reuters, “We have changed the passport regulations and will add a third category of gender for those people who do not want to be identified as male or female.”
LGBTQ groups across Nepal and throughout the world applauded the announcement, but noted more progress is still needed. The country still doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, only awards child-inheritance rights to “sons” or “daughters,” and punishes gay sex with up to one year in prison.
Nepal now joins a number of other countries that are progressing toward more inclusive gender definitions, moving away from binary male and female designations. Australia and New Zealand also provide a third gender option on their passports. Last year, India also announced it would begin to recognize a third gender on all official documents, while Pakistan made a similar announcement in 2009.