'Married' lesbian couple defy their families and vow to fight Indian law

Two young women in Punjab state have eloped for what may be the region's first lesbian wedding. The two, identified only as Raju and Mala, disappeared from their homes in Amritsar two weeks ago.

Two young women in Punjab state have eloped for what may be the region's first lesbian wedding. The two, identified only as Raju and Mala, disappeared from their homes in Amritsar two weeks ago.

They have now returned and are demanding that their families respect their wish to live as a couple. The parents of each are said to be furious.

Raju's mother, Ranjit Kaur, is quoted as saying: "It is humiliating for us and for humanity. We only wish they are joking." Her father, Tarsem Singh has demanded their arrest.

Police say the case has nothing to do with them. Although gay and lesbian marriages are not recognised in Indian law, and the marriage will not be official, there is no law that can stop the women living together, as they are adults.

The two women have reportedly said, however, that they not only want to live together but will fight to have their marriage registered and the law changed on gay marriages.

Neighbours have called for a social boycott of the two women. Raju's mother was quoted by Calcutta's Telegraph newspaper as saying: "We had no idea that the two were up to other things than being just good friends. They were always seen together.

"We used to laugh when they used to say they would get married to each other. Now we know why Raju shunned the proposals that used to come for her. Mala's parents, too, hold similar views."

Indian society is still deeply conservative when it comes to questions of sex and marriage, especially for women. Most Indians still have arranged marriages with spouses chosen by their parents, and the question of a dowry for a young bride is paramount.

Public expression of homosexuality in India is taboo. When a Bollywood film about a lesbian love affair opened recently, crowds of Hindu extremists attacked cinemas. Gay rights groups were also up in arms about the film, but their grievance stemmed from what they believed was its deeply negative portrayal of lesbianism.

Bollywood may be making movies about lesbianism, but any openness on the subject is confined to the relatively open, richer sections of society in Bombay and a handful of other cities.

Amritsar is not that sort of place. It is the holy city of Sikhism and, therefore, is dominated by Sikhs.

But Raju and Mala are reported to have married on Tuesday in what has been described as a Hindu ceremony. The service, however, is not likely to be recognised as such by orthodox Hindus.

Although much of Indian society does not accept gay marriages, it does have some unusual practices relating to marriage.

Although they are illegal, child marriages are still common in some rural areas. Adult men who marry under-age girls are now liable to be given lengthy jail sentences if caught, but the practice continues nonetheless.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz