India: Gay couple get married, but in uncertain terms

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A gay couple who were married according to Hindu rites, and had their marriage registered in Uttar Pradesh last month, have fled home, as their marriage has been discovered to be registered under the Hindu Marriage Act, which does not permit same-sex unions.

The case has caused something of a legal conundrum, as the couple, Chunmun Kumar and Simran, maintain that they had informed the registry officials of their gender, though the officials deny this. The latter claim that the couple in question submitted two affadavits, one as a man and the other as a woman.

Mr Chunmun is a resident of Sinhachwar village in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh, and he has been working with Simran (née Simaan Singh) for more than eight years, organising dance parties for various marriage ceremonies. Having lived together for the same period, they decided to get married last month.

“We went to Ballia civil court and met a lawyer, who took Rs 3,000 and asked us to come back after a day,” Mr Chunmun told the Indian Express. According to his report, when they reached the registry office, the officer called his name for identification and he replied yes; then the officer confirmed Simran’s name and he also said yes; after which they were issued with the marriage certificate, registered on 29 March.

Mr Chunmun added: “Why would we get our marriage registered if we wanted to keep our relation secret? I had told the lawyers that we were both men.” He also said that though his parents initially opposed his choice for a partner, his parents reluctantly accepted him.

However, Ballia sub-registrar Subhash Chandra Mishra said the affadavits described Mr Simran as a woman, and that the latter had attended the registration wearing a sari, and looking like a woman. The witnesses for the registration ceremony are not available for contact.

Mr Mishra said he could not lodge a complaint, even though it is illegal for two men to be married in India, because he had no proof of Mr Chunmun’s gender, nor of Simran’s. The couple fear legal repercussions and imprisonment, and have consequently decided to flee their locality.