Government no to smart passport for third gender

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KATHMANDU, JUL 26 – A meeting of senior government officials on Monday concluded that it was impossible to issue Machine Readable Passports (MRPs) to the third gender due to the current legal and administrative regime.

The meeting comes on the heels of the denial by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) to issue MRP to a third gender applicant on Sunday citing that the system does not support it. The current MRP regime recognises only male or female under the ‘sex’ category.

Foreign Secretary Madan Kumar Bhattarai on Monday convened a meeting of Home Secretary Lila Mani Poudel and Law and Justice Secretary Madhav Poudel on how to pave a way forward if there were any possibilities to issue passports to the third gender.

“We concluded that the existing legal and administrative system does not support issuing passports to the third gender. We also held consultations with the Home Ministry in this respect and it categorically objected to issuing passports to the third gender,” Foreign Secretary Bhattarai said.

A 2007 ruling of the apex court had instructed the government to prepare a legal framework to issue citizenship and passport to the third gender. However, in the absence of such a legal framework, the Home Ministry has advised MoFA to halt issuing passports to the third gender.

“First we need to come clean on legal and administrative fronts so that we can change the MRP system, which is not a big deal,” Bhattarai said. “Then, we need to amend the new passport guidelines that came into effect last December. We could not find a solid legal base to award passports to the third gender. Once the Home Ministry comes up with a  new legal framework we will have no problem issuing passports to the third gender.”

Dilu Bhujuda, 45, of Myagdi district had applied for an MRP some 35 days ago at the Narayanhiti distribution centre along with citizenship certificate that recognises her as a “third gender”. Bhujuda was the first proclaimed third gender to apply for the MRP since it came into effect last December.

When Bhujuda inquired from the passport unit about her document on Sunday afternoon, she was told that it could not be issued because the MRP system cannot read her gender category.

Date:- 2011-07-26 10:06




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