Love knows no boundaries. Legal restrictions and threats from family members made an Indian gay couple cross over to Nepal to get married.
The ceremony held near a Hindu temple in the heart of Kathmandu on Tuesday is the first Indian gay wedding in Nepal where same sex marriages will get legal sanction soon.
Asif Khan, 30, a Muslim from Ahmedabad exchanged rings with longtime Hindu partner Sanjiv Sha, 42, a UK citizen of Indian origin (names changed). The couple was blessed by a Hindu priest.
A function was attended by gays, lesbians, transgendered and transvestites from Kathmandu who contributed to organize a small feast and party for the newlyweds.
“We chose Nepal as there is no legal sanction for same sex marriages in India. I am very excited and happy,” said Khan, a sales executive who met Sha during a visit to UK in 2003.
The wedding was organized by Blue Diamond Society, an organization working for rights of sexual minorities and Pink Mountain, the country’s first travel agency promoting gay and lesbian tourism.
“The couple arrived in Kathmandu four days back and sought our help in getting married. We took a minimal fee of US $ 200 to arrange the wedding,” said BDS founder Sunil Babu Pant, Nepal’s first gay lawmaker.
A marriage certificate (not legal) would be given to the couple by BDS and the amount used for welfare of persons belonging to sexual minorities.
The couple plans a short honeymoon in India before settling in UK. Sha, a social worker from Leicester had taken permission from the British High Commission in New Delhi to go ahead with the wedding.
“I was worried for the safety of my partner and thought Nepal is a safe destination. We now look forward to a happy future,” said Sha.
In December 2007, Nepal’s Supreme Court granted equal status to sexual minorities. Nepal’s Constituent Assembly is in the process of granting equal rights to them including legalizing same sex marriages.
Pant says he receives lot of wedding queries from gays and lesbians in India. Prince of Rajpipla, Manvendra Singh Gohil, who’s popular as India’s Gay Prince is also planning his wedding here.
Nepal is hoping to become Asia’s biggest hub for gay and lesbian tourism and improve the country’s economy by tapping into the multi-billion dollar market.
The country will host its first Gay Pride Parade on August 25 in Kathmandu where thousands of gays, lesbians, transgendered and transvestites from Nepal, India and other countries are expected to take part.