BENGALURU: In perhaps the first lesbian ‘wedding’ in Bengaluru, a 25-year-old woman tied the knot with a 21-year-old at a temple in Koramangala. The parents of the younger woman have filed a complaint with the police, who are now “counselling” the couple and hope to “make them realize” the negative fallout of their decision. Same-sex marriages are not legal in India. The Supreme Court re-criminalised Section 377 in 2013 after the Delhi High Court struck it down in 2009.
The women are distant relatives. Shilpa (name changed) is studying B.Com in a private college in Bengaluru and her father solemnizes weddings; the older one (let’s call her Sahana) works in a call centre and her father runs a business. Bangalore Mirror has details of both but has chosen not to reveal their identities as they could face a backlash.
In her statement 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.
When Sahana expressed her love for Shilpa, it was initially met with rejection, she said in the statement. However, Sahana pursued and won the younger woman over.
In May 2017, the two decided to run away from their homes as their parents would never accept their relationship. The younger one started living in a paying guest accommodation while the older woman looked for a place. Within two weeks, they found a place and moved in together in Koramangala.
In the meantime, Shilpa’s parents filed a missing complaint with the Vijayanagar police. The duo was traced to the rented place in Koramangala but the police could not do anything as both are adults.
Sahana and Shilpa then contacted an advocate and an NGO and informed the police that they do not want to go back to their families as they were in love and happy together.
The parents then informed the police about the “wedding” and their active sexual relations. The police, however, refused to act as they do not have jurisdiction unless there is a specific complaint from one of the women. The police then referred the case to Vanitha Sahayavani in police commissioner’s office. Senior counsellor BS Saraswathi said she had spoken to both the women and their “counselling was on”.
A senior officer dealing with the case said that the parents were mulling over “psychiatric counselling” for the women.
Section 377, which criminalises homosexual sex states: Whoever voluntarily has carnal inter-course 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.
However, former public prosecutor S Doreraju said: “Lesbian marriage is not recognized and is a punishable offence under Section 377, provided one of them becomes a complainant. Parents of both the women can also lodge a complaint but not under IPC section 377. They can give other reasons such as ‘psychological
Other experts said that since both are adults and nothing has been done in public view, it was very difficult to convict the women of any crime. Be that as it may, Shilpa has decided not to go back to her family and stay with an NGO instead till the issue is resolved.
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