2872468136United Kingdom: An Indian-born gay couple from the United Kingdom were among the first  to take advantage of the legalization of marriage among same-sex couples that came into effect in England and Wales on March 29.

Subodh Rathod, 49, and Niranjan Kamatkar, 48, tied the knot at Haringey Register Office in front of around 100 family members, friends and colleagues, reports tottenhamjournal.co.uk.Their wedding was streamed live online.

The couple is among the first men marrying men and women marrying women in a range of ceremonies across England and Wales as a historic law legalizing marriage among same-sex finally came into force.

The couple know better than most that this day has been a long time coming, a day that British Prime Minister David Cameron described as “an important moment for our country.”

The Indian couple met 19 years ago when Subodh attended the first south Asian gay conference in Mumbai, India.

Together they have plenty of experience in the gay rights field.

Niranjan was co-editor of the first Indian gay magazine, Bombay Dost, when they met and the couple founded Wise Thoughts, the issue-based arts charity for people in the minority ethnic community and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in the United Kingdom.

“Within a short space of time we realized that we had strong feelings for each other,” said Subodh.

It might seem incredible now, but in 1995 the Dutch were still six years away from becoming the first in the world to legalize gay marriage.

“It is first and foremost to celebrate the fact that we are able to get married,” said Subodh.

“Secondly, which I think is quite key, to dispel some of the myths that exist around social acceptance by south Asian communities of same-sex relationships.”

Subodh said his cousins leapt at the opportunity to help organise the event, while the decision to stream the wedding online was partly so relatives abroad could be part of the historic moment.

“That’s our purpose, I think, to ensure that future generations are able to look back and say yes, there is somebody who has done it before,” says Subodh.

The couple originally hail from India where In December the Indian supreme court overturned a 2009 high court ruling to legalize gay sex, reinstating a 154-year-old law dating back to the colonial British era. That law termed same-sex relations as “an unnatural act” and criminalized it with up to life imprisonment.

Niranjan called that decision by the Indian supreme court “regressive and not in keeping with the times,” opening the door for harassment, abuse, blackmail and worse.

However, Subodh adds: “Attitudes are changing – and it also helps when you know somebody personally… There is in existence at least 40-60 million LGBT people in India.”

The anecdotal suggestion that one in 10 people are LGBT would put the figure even higher, at around 120 million people in India.

The marriage law in England and Wales is the final victory in a long battle for equal rights and now has the same age of consent and the right to adopt for all citizens.

England and Wales join 15 countries and parts of the United States and Mexico that allow marriage between same-sex couples. Last year Brazil, Uruguay, New Zealand and France also joined the list.

Source: tottenhamjournal.co.uk