High court in India moves to protect lesbian couple

women standing in the street behind a rainbow flag celebrating

A high court in India has instructed police to protect a lesbian couple facing abuse from their family and people in living in their village.

It is one of a handful of such judgments since India dramatically decriminalized gay sex last year.

What’s more, the couple’s story highlights the risk same-sex couples still face in India.

‘Made our lives hell’

Rekha Bairwa and Usha Rai Mahar, both 24, have known each other since school, according to India Legal Live.

Though India does not officially recognize same-sex marriages, they secretly celebrated their love at a temple in December last year.

‘We did not take pictures of the marriage and went back to our respective homes’ the couple told India Legal Live.

But, their community found out.

‘Not only our families but the entire village has also turned against us. Wherever we go, we face taunts and remarks’ they said.

‘We want to live together and people have made our lives hell’.

After they were physically abused, they went to local police. But, the couple say, their families paid money to avoid charges.

Take it to court

So, the pair went to the Rajasthan High Court.

Their legal counsel, Bhim Sen Bairwa, said it was the first such case he had seen in 15-year legal career.

Bairwa said he was keen to take up the case as it was a human rights issue.

The judge registered the case and asked local police to ‘ensure necessary vigil that no physical harm is caused to the lives of the petitioners’.

But, according to India Legal Live, the pair still face abuse.

‘Both of us still live in our respective homes and now our families are pressuring us to get us married to men’ the said.

‘Lewd and vulgar remarks are hurled at us whenever they see us together’.

Local police told India Legal Live they had received the judge’s order and would implement it.

Section 377

India’s Supreme Court on 6 September ruled to alter colonial-era, Section 377 of the Penal Code. The 1861 law criminalized ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’.

The law applied to anal and oral sex. It therefore effectively criminalized homosexuality, with those convicted under the law facing up to 10 years in jail.

In October last year, two courts demonstrated the justice system was working to uphold the ruling.

A lesbian couple in India rushed to the capital, Delhi, to seek protection from their families who disapprove of the relationship. Delhi High Court granted them police protection.

The same month, the High Court of Kerala in south India ruled that a lesbian couple should live together.

In January this year, Delhi High Court again ruled in favor of two women who wanted to live together.

LGBTI rights activists in India have warned that decriminalization is just the beginning of equal rights. It will take a long time for society to change, they warn.

Author: Rik Glauert

The post High court in India moves to protect lesbian couple appeared first on Gay Star News.

Tennessee Republicans want to allow adoption agencies to turn away gay couples

One bill would allow adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples. The other would prevent them from suing after they were discriminated against.

Author: Nico Lang

The post Tennessee Republicans want to allow adoption agencies to turn away gay couples appeared first on LGBTQ Nation.

In Japan, 349 couples have registered for ‘partnership certificates’

Tokyo, Japan (image: Pixabay)

Some 349 couples in Japan have registered for partnership certificates designed to recognize same-sex couples.

Japan’s largely conservative society does not allow same-sex marriage.

Local LGBTI organization Nijiri surveyed the 11 municipalities that recognize same-sex couples with partnership certificates.

The certificates give couples limited recognition in government hospitals and housing. Some large companies also recognize the certificates to offer the same spousal discounts given to straight couples.

Shibuya ward in Tokyo, which was one of the first places to offer certificates in 2015, saw the most registrations with 81, according to Nijiri.

The city of Osaka also registered 79 couples. Chiba, which began issuing certificates last month, meanwhile, has already had 7 couples register.

But, four of the municipalities also allow opposite-sex couples to register, so not all of the 349 couples may be same-sex.

Fight for marriage equality

This month, same-sex couples in Japan will launch the country’s greatest ever bid for marriage equality.

Thirteen couples and their lawyers will file lawsuits in four different cities against the government on 14 February.

They are seeking compensation from the government after it rejected their marriage application. The couples will, therefore, argue the government’s position on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Currently, there is no nationwide legislation to protect LGBTI people from discrimination based on their sexuality or gender identity.

‘Marriage is a fundamental right under the constitution, and this should be applied to same-sex couples’ lawyer for the Marriage For All Japan group, Takeharu Kato, said.

‘It’s unfair that same-sex couples are not able to enjoy the rights given to heterosexual couples,’ he also said.

Author: Rik Glauert

The post In Japan, 349 couples have registered for ‘partnership certificates’ appeared first on Gay Star News.