India: An openly gay man and his transgender woman partner are to have their marriage solemnized with blessings from both families as well as Indian law that only recently recognized the third gender with rights such as marriage.
Sanjana, 30, and Shadab, 29, will have their marriage solemnized soon after the end of the holy month of Ramadan July 27, according to hindustantimes.com.
Shadab says he belongs to the MSM community and runs a transport company while Sanjana is a transgender woman who works as a counselor with a community-based organization meant for the third gender.
They will get to raise Shadab’s three-year-old niece and also have the blessings of their families, a rare feat in conservative India where such sexual orientations are frowned upon and till recently were illegal.The couple reside in the northern Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
Shadab was engaged to a girl and marriage fixed for June 7, but in May end, his family relented and said they would accept Sanjana as their daughter-in-law.
“Our families have met and preparations for marriage are on,” Sanjana told hindustantimes.com.
Shadab recounted how his brother had earlier thrashed him for his sexual orientation but who now said “we could live according to our wishes.”
The couple said they had gone through a lot of “emotional turmoil” during their nine years of courtship.
Sanjana is also delighted that Shadab’s sister and brother-in-law have promised that they could raise their daughter.
“We have always been rebuked by families, friends and relatives…Going to college was a nightmare and I visited my family only after it was dark. It seemed life was heading nowhere. But now it is all over,” Sanjana said.
Shadab’s brother-in-law, a carpenter by profession and sister, were the ones who stood by the couple.
The Indian Supreme Court in a landmark ruling on April 15 recognized transgender people as the third sex and accorded them equal standing under Indian law.
This ruling changed the fate of transgender people who till then were barred from marriage or even receiving driver licenses, national tax system registration and ration cards.
Moreover the court ruled that the colonial-era “Section 377” law that describes same-sex relations as “unnatural” and punishable with life imprisonment and which it had earlier upheld to criminalize same-sex relations was not to be used against transgender people although still applicable to gays, lesbians and bisexuals.