Mahisagar district in the state of Gujarat is currently in the list of tops news. Reason? It’s because of this unique love story of two lesbian police constables. They took to the High Court of Gujarat, to seek protection from their parents.
Avni and Preeti (their names have been changed on their request to stay anonymous) who are both 24; are in a live-in relationship for the past few years. They were very much about it, to their work colleagues and friends. However, the couple decided to enter into a “friendship contract”, basically a document to legitimize their co-living situation.
The couple signed this document on June 10th.
Once Preeti’s parents found out about this, they began to harass her. “They came to our house and demanded that I leave my job and go back with them. They don’t understand my relation with Avni and they don’t care about what I want in life and how I want to live it,” said Preeti, to TOI. Preeti comes from a conservative farming family in Bhavnagar.
The “Friendship Contract”:
Maitri Karar also called as the “friendship contract”, is a contract system existing in Gujarat which legitimizes live-in relationships and makes them valid.
Gujarat government created this system in the 70s; just for making it easy for men to get a mistress without breaking the rules of Hindu Marriage Act. However, in the recent years this document is also being used to legitimise socially scandalous and unacceptable relationships such as same sex relationships and interfaith weddings.
Similarly, this “friendship contract” is also practiced in other states of India such as Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan; but under the name of Nata Pratha.
Police Never Responded:
Shocked and scared, the couple wrote to their SP (sub inspector of police) of Mahisagar to provide them with protection. But the police failed to get back to them with a response. They hence went ahead and filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Gujarat High Court.
However, the SP of Mahisagar, Usha Rada said that their department was preparing to set up an investigation; to thoroughly look into the filed complaint to TOI. “In the meantime, the two went ahead and filed a PIL. We are only concerned about how they will do their police work. We don’t have anything to do with their personal lives,” Rada told.
The Final Verdict:
On the 23rd of July 2020, High Court’s Justice A J Desai has passed the order,”…Mahisagar SP is hereby directed to look into the matter and take immediate steps. If required, the petitioners shall be provided police protection.”
Only after this order was passed, the couple were left alone. “They never expected it’d go to court. These girls showed a lot of courage. They are educated women and in government service but they didn’t shy from fighting for their right to live and love the way they want,” said Zakir Rathod, their advocate. Rathod also claimed that Avni and Preeti are the first openly lesbian couple from the Gujarat police department.
Manvendra Singh Gohil is the world’s only openly gay Prince of Rajpipla from Gujarat. He is a champion of the LGBTQIA+ cause and said that the couple could be Gujarat’s first openly lesbian pair from the police department; but nothing can be said for sure since there are no solid written records. “Since this couple has outed their sexuality to their families and co-workers then it that sense it’s definitely the first such case,” he said.
Will This Ever Stop?:
This is not first time LGBTQIA+ couples were harassed by their families; for choosing to be who they are and with who they love. Let’s face it, decriminalization of Section 377 has not done much to change the mindsets of such narrow minded, conservative people. They still feel the same resentment and denial towards the LGBTQIA+, as before the historical moment of our nation. How many LGBTQIA+ couples and individuals are there, who still silently endure abuse or harassment or torture from their toxic families? Millions.
As long as people are not willing to sit back, think and broaden their knowledge; people from the community will have to endure such violence. No law can stop them from causing harm.
Let’s hope that our generation and the ones after us, because of our access to information from all over the world through internet, will accept the LGBTQIA+ with open arms.