Two Indian Men Marry - One Muslim, One Hindu
Love overcame prejudice as two Indian men married one another in Nepal--one of them a Hindu, and the other a Muslim.
The 30-year-old Muslim man, identified only as S. Khan in an Aug. 17 article at The Times of India, explained why the couple needed to travel despite the recent decriminalization of homosexuality in India. "We read on the Internet that Nepal’s Supreme Court has approved of same-sex marriages," said Khan. "Since they are still not legal in India, we decided to come to Nepal to get married."
The wedding, which took place Aug. 17, was officiated by a Hindu cleric and included an exchange of vows and rings. Officially, however, Nepal has not yet made marriage equality legal. "Though Nepal’s apex court has approved same sex marriages and instructed the government to enact laws in accordance, the actual laws are yet to be formulated," said Sunil Pant, an openly gay member of Nepal’s parliament and the founder of the Blue Diamond Society, which advocates for LGBT equality.
"We were hoping the new constitution would be promulgated in May and legally validate same-sex marriages," added Pant. That did not happen, so now "we hope the marriage laws will now be ready when the constitution comes into effect in May 2011."
The men may have overcome social and religious obstacles, but they have yet to navigate the bureaucratic hurdles that await: the Hindu groom, identified in an Associated Press story as Sanjay Shah, a 42-year-old social worker who lives in Britain, plans to return home and take his spouse with him.
Pant said that Pink Mountain Tour Company--a GLBT travel service that he also established--has already made plans to host two additional weddings in Nepal, one for an American lesbian couple and one for another transnational family, an Arab-Filipino couple. The travel company was started earlier this year, with an eye to the international same-sex wedding market.
Gays in India are still celebrating the victory of no longer being treated as criminals--or subjected to crushing blackmail demands--following the July 2, 2009, High Court verdict that scrubbed anti-gay language from Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. Family parity remains outside of the grasp of LGBT Indians, but simply not being persecuted remains a cause for joy.
"It does mean a lot. People don’t avoid us these days," Anshuman Bludagoti told the Associated Press for an article on the occasion’s first anniversary. That joy is tinged with apprehension, however, as the country’s Supreme Court has yet to confirm the High Court’s finding.
Social pressures also remain. Only two days after the first same-sex wedding in the Indian state Manipur last March, the families of the two men who had wed called the police in to convince them to split up, lest their marriage stain their families’ honors.
The two men were wed on March 25, reported the India Gazette that same day. The 25-year-old groom--identified only as Sandip--referred to his 28-year-old male spouse Nikhil as his "wife," and told the media, "We are indeed happy."
But though the men had been together for six years, their marriage displeased their families so much that they went to the police for help in breaking up the marriage, which ended on March 27.
"A police official called Sandip and Nikhil to the police station and counseled them for about two hours," one of Sandip’s relatives told the press, according to a March 29 story posted at MidDay.com. "The two men agreed to split and call off their marriage."
"We were deeply hurt and objected to the marriage," one of Nikhil’s relatives said. "With no options left, we approached the police. They helped us not by force, but by reasoning and convinced the duo to change their mind and split."