Varanasi sisters defy family to get married in traditional ceremony: Report

Two cousin sisters in Uttar Pradesh went against the wishes of their families and married each other at a temple, registering the first same-sex marriage in the holy city of Varanasi. The two girls belong to Varanasi and posted a photo of their marriage on social media, said a report in the Hindustan Times. This is probably the first same-sex marriage in the holy city, and has created quite a buzz. The girls are reportedly residents of Rohaniya. They exchanged vows of supporting each other in sickness and in health at a Shiva temple in Varanasi on Wednesday. Initially, the priest refused to initiate the ceremony, but the girls, clad in jeans a t-shirts with a red dupatta on their heads, remained adamant. They sat inside the temple till the priest relented. The priest said that the girls exchanged garlands, before one of them tied a mangalsutra on the others neck. By the time the marriage ceremony got over, a huge crowd had gathered outside the temple. The priest was criticised for solemnising the marriage by some of the bystanders. The girls left in a hurry before any untoward incident could take place. The report quoted the priest as saying that one of the girls was from Kanpur and was staying with her cousin in Varanasi to pursue studies. The Supreme Court had in September 2018 decriminalised homosexuality in a landmark judgement. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) listed homosexuality as a criminal offence. While strike down Section 377, the SC had said that criminalising consensual homosexual sex between adults was irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary. The judgement is a big step in improving the plight of gays, lesbians and transgenders in India. But social stigma is still prevalent in certain parts of the nation. Gay marriages are still not legal as per the various marriage acts in India, but citizens are allowed to marry socially or through religious customs. In the first such case, a Gurgaon court had recognised the marriage of two women in July 2001.