Section 377: ‘Never hesitated to hold hands in public, but the feeling now unmatched’https://indianexpress.com/article/india/section-377-never-hesitated-to-hold-hands-in-public-but-the-feeling-now-unmatched-5344366/

Section 377: ‘Never hesitated to hold hands in public, but the feeling now unmatched’

Same-sex couples heave a sigh of relief after the Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality. Couples like Ajay-Tanya are now reassured as the 'criminal tag' has been taken off them.

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Ajay Kumar (30) and his partner Mohinder Mintoo alias Tanya (32) been living together for 18 years. (Express photo by Divya Goyal)

The mood at the office of Mansa Foundation Welfare Society in Ludhiana, working for rights of LGBTQI community in Punjab, was upbeat as the Supreme Court struck down section 377 of IPC, decriminalising same-sex relations between consenting adults. Some couples also exchanged varmaala (garlands), symbolising freedom to love that they got on Thursday.

Ajay Kumar (30) hugged his partner Mohinder Mintoo alias Tanya (32) as tears flowed freely. The two have been living together for 18 years now.

Tanya, as Mohinder prefers to be addressed now, dresses like a woman – bright salwaar kameez, a big round bindi on her forehead and lipstick completing her look.

“Jab miyaan biwi raazi to kya karega qaazi,” quips Ajay as he holds Tanya’s hand and both pose for a photograph.
Ajay’s family, however, is yet to accept Tanya and the couple doubts if the Supreme Court verdict is going to make any difference there.

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“My family has accepted Ajay but his family hasn’t accepted me till now. We doubt if the Supreme Court verdict today is going to make any difference to that because mindsets are not that easy to change,” says Tanya.

Tanya (Mohinder) was even forcibly married off to a woman but the marriage ended for obvious reasons. “It was a forced marriage because my family failed to understand my love for Ajay. I cannot live without Ajay for even a minute. I ended my marriage which was done forcibly. I have two daughters. I keep meeting them but I cannot leave Ajay who is [the] love of my life. Those two months were the toughest part of my life when Ajay’s family had him away forcibly to separate us,” says Tanya alias Mohinder.

Ajay says that even as the apex court has legalised their relationship on paper, it is still a long road ahead to see a change in society. “Even earlier, I never hesitated in holding Tanya’s hand in public. Our love never needed any permissions but the feeling after today’s verdict is unmatched. It cannot be explained in words. Earlier there used to be a little fear in our hearts and a question that what is criminal if we love each other but now it is gone. I wish [the] court’s verdict can also change my family’s feelings for Tanya. They do not even like to see her (his) face. It will take time before a real change is visible in society to accept as a normal couple,” he says.

“My family even used police force to separate me from Tanya but I would again return to her the next day. Finally, they gave up,” he adds.

The couple now runs their own ‘Ajay-Tanya Nakal & Qawwal Party’ which performs at marriages, religious gatherings and other events. “We do not beg, we do not steal, we do not do any crime. We both live happily together and earn to run our home. It feels very lighter to have criminal tag off her heads which was given to us without doing any crime,” says the couple.