Four gay couples tie the knot in Chandigarh

Four gay couples tie the knot in Chandigarh

Priest not amused, says attire may have fooled colleagues

Umesh, 25, and Sudarshan (name changed), 24, who were living together for eight years in a slum rehabilitation colony here, were already "married" but after the verdict, they exchanged the vows once again on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, three more young gay couples tied the knot in the ancient Mansa Devi shrine in Panchkula, some 10 km from here.

"We have been staying together in the same rented room for the last eight years. In fact, we had married in a temple around four years ago but we did not make it public due to the fear of society," Sudarshan, who works with the state AIDS Control Society, said.

"However, the recent decision given by the Delhi court has given us new courage, and we married again on Wednesday in the presence of a few of our friends. We have no grudges and now we can tell everyone about our marriage with full dignity," he added.

Sudarshan said that right from his childhood he had feminine characteristics and preferred their company.

"I realised my real womanhood when on one fine day Umesh hugged me and proposed me for marriage. Now I want to undergo a sex change surgery but unfortunately, I do not have enough money for it," he added.

He said there were many other boys and girls like them in the city but they were not coming out due to social pressures.

Umesh, who works as a labourer, said: "We have taken the pledge to stay together in any kind of circumstances. The best thing is that our relatives and neighbours have accepted our relationship and they are coming to our home to congratulate us. Very soon we will have a reception bash."

In the July 2 verdict, the Delhi High Court struck down the penal provisions for homosexual sex between consenting adults under section 377 of the Indian Penal Code
(IPC). However, the legal status of homosexual partners is still awaited.

An elated Jarnail Singh, who married Deep (renamed Sapna), said: "I first met him in a garden around five years ago. Then we started meeting each other and finally started staying together in a rented accommodation. The priest who solemnised our marriage in the temple did not object to it but our family members were against it."

Sachin and Sanjana, who also married on Wednesday, have been living together for six years.

"Earlier, people used to tease us but now things have changed. I am feeling full of life and liberated today. Believe me, it's a very nice feeling," said Sachin.

However, society is finding it hard to accept these marriages.

Vinod Kumar, deputy director of the Haryana AIDS Control Society, said: "The gays have started asserting their presence and started coming out in the open. But I am afraid that society in Haryana would probably not accept such alliances in the open."

Rohit Ruhella, president of a city-based NGO, added: "There are many gay couples, especially youths, who have been staying together in Chandigarh and its neighbouring towns for many years. Some of them have secret marriages."

"But the latest decision of the Delhi High Court to decriminalise the consensual homosexual sex has motivated them to come out in open. It could pose a serious threat for society," stated Ruhella.

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