While many countries proudly celebrated the Pride Month recently, the LGBTQA community in India has a long way to go for its members to be officially allowed to revel in their sexuality. It’s the 21st century, however, same-sex relationships and love are still considered an ailment, that must be ‘cured’. But fighting against all odds is a brave lesbian couple from Karnataka, who decided to get married recently.
Recently, 21-year-old Shilpa and 25-year-old Sahana (names changed) reportedly exchanged vows at a temple in Koramangala in Bengaluru, in what is being hailed as India’s first lesbian wedding at a temple. But what followed was expected, even if unfortunate. Once aware of what had transpired, Sahana’s family lodged a police complaint against the duo.
According to a Bangalore Mirror report, the newlyweds are, in fact, distant relatives. Shilpa is studying BCom in a private college in Bengaluru and her father solemnises weddings; while Sahana works in a call centre and her father runs a business.
“To the police, Sahana has said that she was attracted to her ‘wife’ when Shilpa was in her teens. But since she belonged to very orthodox family, she decided to get Shilpa acquainted with the ways of the modern world. She took her to malls and bought her western clothes and expensive gifts,” the news report said.
After the complaint was lodged, the two women are under “counselling” who are trying their best to persuade them out of the marriage. A senior officer dealing with the case said that the parents were mulling over “psychiatric counselling” for the women.
In May, the duo had decided to elope and started living on their own at a rented place. Initially, the parents had lodged a missing person’s diary and the cops were able to trace them easily. “The duo was traced to the rented place in Koramangala but the police could not do anything as both are adults,” the report added.
They couple sought help from an NGO and informed the police that they did not want to go back to their parents. It was then that their parents told the cops about their daughters’ wedding and active sexual relationship.
Section 377, which criminalises homosexual sex states: Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine. But the police highlighted that they can only act unless one of the women complaints.
Gowthaman Ranga of the Alternative Law Forum said that since both are adults and have discovered love, nobody should persecute and prosecute them under Section 377.
However, former public prosecutor S Doreraju told the newspaper that since lesbian marriage is not recognised in India, it is a punishable offence under Section 377, but that’s only if one of them becomes a complainant. Well, they are safe for now, it seems.