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Same Sex Pair Get Relief in Pakistan

A 'same sex' pair is making waves in Pakistan, evoking mixed reactions.

Then the Lahore High Court sent them to jail, predictable that.

But what comes as a pleasant surprise is the decision of the countrys Supreme Court to release them on bail and hear their appeals.

The ruling came after a judge agreed to hear appeals against the convictions.

The couple say they are man and wife, but the Lahore high court ruled last month that the husband was, in fact, a woman, despite sex-change surgery.

The case is thought the first of its kind in Pakistan where homosexuality and trans-sexuality are largely taboo.

That was in September last year. The couple said that it was the only way Tariq could avoid being sold off to pay the gambling debts of her uncle. But the brides relatives went to court saying it was against Islam for two women to marry and wanted the marriage to be annulled.

At Lahore, Tariqs family had a measure of success. The High Court ordered an examination of Shumail Raj by doctors who decided that, despite operations to remove her breasts and uterus, she was still a woman. The court convicted them of perjury last month and sentenced them to three years in prison and a fine. They also fined them 10,000 Pakistani rupees ($165).

But the countrys Supreme Court came to their rescue. On Thursday it suspended the Lahore verdict and agreed to hear an appeal by Shamile Raj, lawyer Babar Awan told reporters.

The two-member bench of the court headed by [Acting Chief) Justice Rana Bhagwandas granted bail to the couple against surety bonds of 50,000 rupees each, Awan said.

Shamile Raj underwent surgery twice in Pakistan over the past 16 years to become a man.

He now sports a beard and moustache and says he needs to go abroad for more treatment.

Tariq insists that they are not homosexuals and they married because they are in love.


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