Today while looking through news headlines online, I noticed “India’s First Married Lesbian Couple Under Constant Police Protection” from the Oregon-based LGBT website Just Out. And further down the list of headlines was this one: “In a first, Gurgaon court recognizes lesbian marriage,” taken from The Times of India.
I read both stories, trying to piece together as much information as possible about this historic couple, and about the apparently constant state of danger in which they live. Then I went out and started looking for other news reports about the couple, since the two referenced above seemed to contradict each other in a couple of places. The Hindustan Times in Indian offered this report. The headline here reads “Same-sex couple fears for life.”
There are a few things I am not quite sure on yet — for instance, the Times of India story talks about “khap panchayats,” and I don’t know what those are. But since these “khap panchayats” have been linked to so-called “honor killings,” I am pretty sure they aren’t good.
But here is the story as I understand it, based on what I have read so far:
Beena, 20, and Savita, 25, have been friends for many years, maybe as long as 15 years. Beena (spelled”Veena” in one report) has always been very boyish, and has always been accepted by her family who treat her as a boy. Savita, who is studying for a college degree, was forced by her family to marry a man late last year. Within five months, she ran away from her husband, got a divorce from a khap panchayat and went to live with Beena.
On July 22, according to Times of India, the two women went to a public notary in Gurgaon and got married by signing an affidavit that said, basically, they were marrying each other and were not being coerced into doing so. Then they ended up going to court to ask for police protection because certain people — namely members of Savita’s own family — were threatening to kill them because through their relationship they had besmirched the honor of Savita’s family.
In court proceedings, as best I can tell, the judge basically gave their marriage legal recognition simply by not disputing their declarations that they were married.