Two Pakistani women have become the first Muslim lesbians to get married in the UK, tying the knot in a civil ceremony in Leeds.
The two former Birmingham students, Rehana Kausar and Sobia Kamar, had to then immediately apply for political asylum, as they would be persecuted for their homosexuality in their native Pakistan.
Ms Kamar, 29 said the couple were "soulmates." They first met three years ago after moving to Birmingham from Pakistan on student visas and have lived together as a couple in Leeds for almost a year.
Rehana Kausar and Sobia Kamar
Ms Kausar, 34, who is originally from Lahore, came to the UK to study business and health care management alongside Ms Kamar. She told the Birmingham Mail: “This country allows us rights and it’s a very personal decision that we have taken. It’s no one’s business as to what we do with our personal lives.
“The problem with Pakistan is that everyone believes he is in charge of other people lives and can best decide about the morals of others but that’s not the right approach and we are in this state because of our clergy, who have hijacked our society which was once a tolerant society and respected individuals freedoms.”
The first Muslim lesbians to tie the knot, the couple's relative said they had to marry in a civil ceremony because no imam would bless them with a nikah, an Islamic marriage ceremony.
Even the registrar asked them to consider if they were content with their decision, the relative added.
The couple are said to have received death threats both from Pakistan and even in the UK.
Homosexual relations are illegal in Pakistan as well as a number of a other Muslim countries and their marriage has made headlines in India, Bangladesh and Iran as well as their native Pakistan.
Ruth Hunt, deputy chief executive for Stonewall, told the Independent: “There is a very cautious step towards social visibility for some gay men in Pakistan but lesbians are completely invisible. Pakistan is not necessarily a safe place for couples to be open about their love.”