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Pakistan judge jails same-sex couple for perjury

[JURIST] A Pakistan judge Monday ordered two women who have publicly acknowledged their same-sex relationship jailed for perjury after one initially claimed to be a man. Sixteen years ago Shumail Raj had herself surgically altered to remove her breasts and uterus, but medical examiners found that she was still a woman. She and her partner Shahzina Tariq have been sentenced to three years in separate women's prisons. Judge Kahawaja Mohammed Sharif described his ruling as lenient because the couple had apologized, avoiding a seven-year sentence. He also rejected a charge of committing the unnatural act of marrying a person of the same gender, indicating that Section 377 of the Pakistan Penal Code did not go that far. A hearing has been scheduled for June 22 to determine whether the "marriage" of the two is valid, and police have been ordered to undertake a criminal investigation of the surgeon who performed the procedures on Raj.

Pakistani law and strict Islamic practice both reject homosexual unions. Rights activists say the perjury conviction is a byproduct of the strict rules against same-sex relationships, which pressured people in them to lie. The Times has more. The Daily Times has local coverage.

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