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the story of coming out to her family without any support. In an
arranged marriage, she fell in love with her sister-in-law, who did not
reciprocate her affections. When she told her in-laws, the woman
began a hate campaign against her, threatening to call the police and
have her son taken from her. The one bright spot was her husband,
who gave his unequivocal support to her once he understood why
she was reluctant to have sex with him. She is fortunate.
Newspaper articles in India abound with stories of double suicides by
couples torn apart by their parents, with the threat of jail under s377.
Some of these women go so far as to perform a Hindu marriage
ceremony, incensing their families, who then have them arrested.
Although most magistrates have freed these couples from police
custody, their parents are usually waiting outside the courtroom, to
prevent a reunion.
Their marginalisation is so great and the funding for women’s
rights so meagre, that shelters for queer women do not exist.
The most Humjinsi can do is provide information and access to
professionals who can assist these women, such as lawyers or
counsellors. Humjinsi, along with other LGBT organisations, is
constantly searching for ways to help these women and to educate
the general public about their plight.
In short, there may be superficial similarities between affluent Indian
lesbians and their Australian counterparts. However, the difficulties
they face have been largely surmounted in Australia in the last twenty
years. Indian lesbians are still waging a hard battle, underfunded and
ostracised. Despite the small size of the existing scene in Mumbai, it
is a great achievement in light of the obstacles they face.
Top: In the film Fire two Indian women married
to men cause scandal by falling in love with each
other Above: A traditional Indian woman from
Mumbai. Photo: WHO / P. Virot
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