High court sends same-sex marriage partners to jail -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

High court sends same-sex marriage partners to jail

LAHORE, May 22: Describing the same-sex marriage as un-Islamic and unlawful, the Lahore High Court on Tuesday sent to jail the Faisalabad couple whose marriage turned out to be the first case of its kind in the country when a medical examination revealed that the husband too was a woman.

The court also issued show-cause notice to the couple seeking explanation as to why it should not be proceeded against on charges of committing unnatural offence and lying to court over the gender issue.

If convicted, the couple will face a minimum of a two-year jail and a maximum of life imprisonment under section 377 of PPC on charges of committing unnatural offence, a section pertaining to homosexuality, and seven-year term for lying to court.

The ‘she-husband’ had been sent to the Kot Lakhpat jail, Lahore, and the ‘bride’ to the Faisalabad district jail. However, there was no specification in the court ruling whether the former would be detained in a male-only lockup or a female’s prison.

Shumail Raj, 31, and Shazina Tariq, 26, the two cousins who were close to each other as friends, became focus of attention after the bride’s father Tariq Husain informed the court on May 8 that the ‘husband’ was a born woman was still so despite having gone through two sex change operations. A penal of doctors appointed by the court confirmed that Shumail was a woman.

Shumail on Tuesday admitted that ‘he’ was a born woman and was still so despite having gone through two surgeries for sex reassignment. As the court took up the case, Justice Khwaja Mohammad Sharif asked ‘him’ to explain whether he was a male or a female. “I am a woman,” Shumail replied and sought an apology when the judge asked him why did he earlier tell a lie to court.

Shumail said ‘he’ told a lie on the last hearing because present there were some of his friends who had no idea about his gender and the sex change operation. The judge did not accept the apology and instead issued the show-cause notice. On the court query, the bride, too, admitted that she knew all about Shumail’s physical status.

Arrested on Sunday on the court directions, Faisalabad police DIG Aslam Tareen produced the couple in court which was jam-packed owing to the presence of dozens of lawyers, mediamen and other people. The court ordered everybody, except the media and the lawyers concerned, to leave the courtroom.

The judge ruled: “Islam and law of our country do not allow a marriage of such kind. A marriage of same sex is neither allowed in Islam nor in our country.” He also said there was no need for further medical examination of Shumail who had admitted that ‘he’ was a woman.

The judge also directed the police to ensure the presence of Dr Abdul Hameed Kardar, who had performed the two sex reassignment surgeries on the she-husband, asking under what law he had been doing such business?

When Mr Husain’s lawyer Ms Gulzar Butt informed the court that the police did not arrest the co-accused of the couple and those who had been providing shelter to them, the court directed the police to apprehend all of them.

The couple in its petition had submitted that they had married according to Muslim law and of their own free will. They also submitted that they had been living happily as husband and wife since their marriage.

Soon after the proceedings concluded, a crowd outside the courtroom made it difficult for the police to take the couple to a police van. Everybody was trying to have a glimpse of the couple and to have a few words with either of them.

“Ours is a love marriage. We want to live together. We will appeal if the court decides against us,” Shumail said briefly in response to a volley of queries the mediamen posed to the couple. Shazina only said she had proposed Shumail who had not committed any crime, except helping her out.

The woman after her arrest in Lahore on Sunday had told reporters in the Faisalabad police custody that she had approached Shumail with the proposal just for the sake of her protection because one of her uncles wanted to force her into marriage to settle his gambling debts.

The court will resume hearing on May 25 when the couple and its counsel come up with the replies to the show-cause notice.
Source: Dawn
Date:5/23/2007