Lahore judge jails same-sex couple

By Amir Mir
May 28, 2007

Same sex Pakistani couple Shahzina Tariq, the bride, and Shumail Raj, the groom jailed
Same sex Pakistani couple Shahzina Tariq, the bride, and Shumail Raj, the groom jailed
Lahore - The recent discovery of the same sex female couple in Pakistan, unprecedented in the country's history and taken with shock by the public, has raised many moral, cultural, religious and legal questions which are not easy to be addressed by the court of law which has already served them with a show cause notice to explain as to why they should not be tried under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) for committing an 'unnatural act'.

The court sent to jail the couple, Shahzina Tariq (31), the bride and Shumail Raj (26), the groom, (actually Nazia), from the Faisalabad district of Punjab after a medical examination revealed that the husband too was a woman.

The two were arrested last week on the orders of the High Court in the eastern city of Lahore which said the husband Shumail Raj, 31, had lied to the court claiming he was a man.

The court sent the couple to jail last week on the grounds that the husband was actually a woman and that same-sex marriages were strictly prohibited in Islam.

"Neither Islam nor our law allows marriages of the same sex. This mistake cannot simply be overlooked," Lahore High Court judge Khawaja Sharif told the couple. "Why should a case be not registered against you for committing unnatural offence and telling lie," he said.

The judge ordered that Raj be sent to jail in Lahore and the woman, Shezina Tariq, be sent to jail in her home town of Faisalabad, pending their trial.

The two have made an appeal to the international community and President Musharraf to help them out in accordance with his agenda of making Pakistan an enlightened, moderate and liberal state.

Drenched in tears in the police van as Raj was being transported to a Lahore Jail and Shahzina to a Faisalabad Jail, they told reporters that if nothing works out, they would commit suicide. If convicted, the couple will face a minimum two-year jail and a maximum life imprisonment under section 337 of the PPC which deals with homosexuality.

Shumail, who had started experiencing hormonal changes in his adolescence of facial hair and deepening of his voice, had gone through two sex reassignment operations.

Shahzina says, "It is none of Shumail's fault because I was the one who proposed to him for marriage and asked him to save me from my father and uncle who wanted to sell my hand off in marriage to an old man for Rs 15 lakh to pay off their gambling debts."

But as they say, the law is above all, the judge, ruled: "Islam and the law of our country do not allow a marriage of such kind." Both the partners got married in September last year. Whatever the outcome, a same sex marriage case has neither been contested nor has it ever been adjudicated by any court of law in the country.

Therefore, the lawyer of the couple is hopeful of a positive outcome. "We don't have provisions in the Pakistani law to deal with marriage between people of the same sex", said Advocate Janisar Baloch.

Asian Sex Gazette. Agencies contributed to this report


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2005 Asian Sex Gazette.
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