A lesbian from India who was allegedly held against her will by her husband and parents has won the right to live with her girlfriend.
The High Court of Delhi‘s Justices Siddharth Mridul and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal said the woman, who has not been named, had an “inalienable human and fundamental right” to live with her partner, according to The Indian Express.
The lesbian woman married her husband in 2016, but left their home to live with her partner in October, after the Supreme Court unanimously ruled to overturn Section 377 and decriminalise gay sex in September.
Her husband reported her to the police as missing. After she clarified to authorities that she had willingly left their home, her 36-year-old partner took the case to court, saying she was worried for her girlfriend’s safety.
“There can be no fetters imposed on the right of an adult woman to reside with whosoever she desires.”
— High Court of Delhi Justices
After hearing testimony from the lesbian woman’s mother and father, the judges decided that the parents were “concerned not only about her wellbeing, but the ramifications of her relationship with the petitioner/[girlfriend], which, in their view, may be a cause for embarrassment and humiliation to them.”
They dismissed the parents’ fears, saying that the married lesbian, “as a mature working woman, has clearly and unequivocally expressed her desire to reside with the petitioner and is completely averse to the fetters sought to be imposed on her freedom of choice.”
The judges added: “Needless to state that there can be no fetters imposed on the right of an adult woman to reside with whosoever she desires, unless the same is contrary to law.”
Signs of progress for lesbian women in India
There have been numerous indications that life has improved for lesbians since the Supreme Court struck down Section 377.
Just weeks after the momentous ruling, a lesbian woman won a similar legal battle with her family to live with her partner.
The High Court in Kerala decided that Aruna, 24, had the right to share a home with her girlfriend of two years, S Sreeja, 40, who petitioned the court in southern India after her partner’s family allegedly kidnapped Aruna and forced her into a mental institution.
On December 28, two lesbians in Uttar Pradesh who were separated by their families and forced into arranged marriages, tied the knot in a symbolic ceremony, six years after meeting at college.
Also last month, the trailer for groundbreaking lesbian love story Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga—which translates as How I Felt When I Saw That Girl—was unveiled, starring Bollywood favourite Sonam Kapoor opposite her father Anil Kapoor.
The film, which is set to be released on February 1, will mark the first time mainstream cinema in India has embraced a same-sex romance on the big screen.
And the second season of web series Gandii Baat 2, which starts on January 7, will include Bollywood star Flora Saini taking part in a lesbian sex scene.
The storyline, which sees Saini get together with fellow Bollywood actress Anveshi Jain, is set to be a landmark moment for Indian TV.