Indian lesbian couple gets marriage blessing from Tribe

Anthony Cuesta | December 08, 2006

Wetka Polang and Melka Nilsa
BANGKOK — An Indian tribe has given its consent to a lesbian 'marriage' in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, a move that sociologists say is unheard of in India.

According to the BBC, a priest belonging to the Kandha tribe led the ceremony between Wetka Polang, 30, and Melka Nilsa, 22, in Koraput district recently.

Both the women are day labourers and now live together in Dandabadi village.

Same-sex relationships are outlawed in India. The 145-year-old colonial Indian Penal Code clearly describes a same sex relationship as an "unnatural offence".

The BBC reports that it was not easy for Wetka and Melka to convince their tribe that they wanted to get married and live together – the local community at first fiercely protested at the idea.

According to Bloggers News Network, repeated threats by the families failed to separate them. As community pressure mounted, the girls ran away.

�We resisted their marriage because it was against our tradition,� said Panti, Bateka�s mother, to Bloggers News Network. �But they were in no mood to listen and eloped. They were later caught at a village fair. Finally, we were compelled to get them married according to our tradition.�

After much persuasion by family members, Kandha villagers of Dandabadi finally gave consent to the formal wedding.

"They [Wetka and Melka] wanted to prove that they can live without the help of men. They also love each other very much. So we decided to forgive them," said village elder Melka Powla to the BBC.

But according to the BBC, the two tribal women had to pay fines to their community to get it to bless their union – they offered a barrel of country liquor, a pair of oxen, and a sack of rice and hosted a family feast.

Now the couple say they are happy.

"We are leading a blissful married life. We love each other very much," Wetka told the BBC.

Both the women have had unhappy experiences with men in the past.

Wetka says she walked out of her marriage to an alcoholic after years of abuse.

The two women now hope to extend their family by adopting the son of Wetka's elder brother. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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