This paper focuses on queer politics within South Asia with a case study of Nepal and its legal recognition of a ‘third gender’ category in 2007 and the constitutional protection of the rights of ‘gender and sexual minorities’ in 2015, both occurring within Nepal’s turbulent transition from a Hindu monarchy to a federal democratic republic. The understanding of a third gender complicates a largely Western understanding of the binary of gender by including a wider range of identifications and experiences of transgression that might go beyond the ambit of gender and/or sexuality. However, within the context of intensifying global interconnectedness as well as stratification, the category continues to resist as well as embrace what can be understood as global framings of alternative sexualities.

This paper will highlight these complexities by analysing movement framing and discourses around identities amongst activists within the broader LGBT movement in Nepal. The paper will add to literature on social movements and LGBTQI politics by taking a multi-level approach to understanding how seemingly indigenous queer identities are compounded of complex relationships between the local, the national and the international. Using in-depth interviews with activists working on LGBTI rights, the paper will further show how the movement has negotiated contestations around identities and with what consequences, and how it might continue to do so given the challenges and opportunities posed by regional and global queer politics.