Nepal's 'first gay wedding' ceremony held

Courtney Mitchell (left) and Sarah Welton getting married The couple said they were happy to contribute to the campaign for gay rights in Nepal

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A lawyer and a college professor - both from the US - have celebrated what they say is Nepal's first public lesbian wedding ceremony.

The nuptials were performed on Monday near the capital, Kathmandu.

Same-sex marriages are not legal in Nepal, but the country is drafting laws to guarantee sexual rights.

Courtney Mitchell, 41, and Sarah Welton, 48, from Denver, Colorado, celebrated in a Hindu Nepalese tradition at the Dakshinkali temple.

Local gay rights activists and supporters attended the ceremony - carried out by a Hindu priest - as did close friends and member of parliament Sunilbabu Pant, a gay rights activist.

He told the Associated Press news agency that it was the first public wedding ceremony of a lesbian couple in the mostly conservative nation.

'Dream come true'

Correspondents say same-sex marriages are not officially legal in Nepal, even though the supreme court has ordered the government to legally guarantee sexual rights and end discrimination.

The laws are still being drafted, but political differences have delayed their passage into law.

Mr Pant said while Monday's wedding did not hold any legal status, "it was a huge achievement for gay rights campaign in Nepal".

Mr Pant's Blue Diamond Society has been fighting for gay rights for several years, and recently opened a travel agency hoping to attract foreign gay couples to come to Nepal for weddings and honeymoons.

The couple said they were happy to be married in Nepal and to contribute to the campaign for gay rights in the country.

"It was my dream wedding come true. This is a fabulous ceremony," Ms Welton said.

Ms Mitchell said that it was because of progress over the gay rights issue since 2003 that she had decided to come to Nepal to get married.

"We are very excited about all this progress... and I really wanted to show my support for Nepal," she said.

The couple met at a birthday party five years ago have adopted a 9-month-old girl.

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