The two were married off to other people. “We were married off six months after leaving college, but could not forget each other. We divorced our husbands and fought a legal battle to stay together again,” they said.
The two women had first met in their college over six years ago, but had to drop out in mid-session after their families came to know about their relationship.
Nearly six years after being separated by forced marriages, the same two women who fell in love in college, tied the knot in a temple on Saturday in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh.
On September 6, a constitution bench of the Supreme Court had decriminalised homosexuality by reading down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that penalised people for their sexual orientation. However, same sex marriage or civil partnerships are not recognised by law in India.
The two women, aged 24 and 26 (names withheld to protect identity) hailing from Hamirpur in Himachal pradesh garlanded each other in a simple temple ceremony. However, the registrar has refused to recognise the marriage.
Daya Shankar Tiwari, the lawyer of the two women, said: “Registrar RK Pal has refused to register the marriage on the ground that there was no government order on same sex marriage.”
Pal, who retired from service on Monday, said: “How could I have registered the marriage when there is no such provision? Same-sex marriage is not allowed. We don’t even have an online proforma for it.”
The two women, however, have not lost hope. “Our lawyer has told us that since the Supreme Court has done away with Section 377, we can stay together. No one can trouble us. We have been living together as a couple for some time now,” one of them said.
They had first met in their college over six years ago, but had to drop out in the mid-session after their families came to know about their relationship.
Though the two women refused to give details of their divorce, they said they would not lay claim to their marital properties.
After their symbolic marriage in a temple, they exchanged vows before their lawyer and friends. Their lawyer said he would challenge the registrar’s decision in the court. “The women are within their legal rights to stay together,” he said.
Lesbian couples find little or no acceptance, and suicide is common given the role that families play in forcing them to marry men. Between 1995 and 2003, 22 young women in same sex relationships in Kerala committed suicide.
However, despite the lack of legality of the marital status, same sex couples in the country have been holding wedding ceremonies. In 1987, Leela and Urmila, two policewomen in Bhopal were suspended after they got married in a temple.