A court in
Lahore, Pakistan, on Monday jailed a same-sex couple
for three years for perjury, prompting the defendants
to ask the president for help.
The case of
Shumail Raj, who was born female but had two operations to
remove her breasts and uterus 16 years ago, and Shahzina
Tariq has made waves by raising issues of
homosexuality and transsexuality that are taboo in
this conservative Muslim society.
The couple, who
married last year, had approached the Lahore high court
for protection against harassment by Tariq's relatives.
However, the judge accused them of lying about the
biological sex of Raj, 31.
doctors examined Raj and decided she was still a
woman--something the couple acknowledged later in
court. Raj has expressed a desire to go abroad for
Kahawaja Mohammed Sharif, announcing their conviction for
perjury, said he was issuing a ''lenient'' sentence, below
the seven-year maximum, because they had apologized.
The judge also
fined them $165 and dropped a charge of committing an act
of unnatural lust, which can be punished by life in prison.
Raj and Tariq,
26, appeared shocked by the verdict.
The pair's eyes
widened as Sharif announced their punishment, and they
briefly clasped each other's arms before police led them
Zahid Husain Bilal said the couple would appeal and that
they hoped for acquittal.
''They were not
alerted at any stage of the proceedings that they could
be penalized,'' Bilal said.
Raj, wearing a
short-sleeved white shirt and jeans, urged Afghanistan's
president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, to step in.
''We appeal to
President Musharraf to intervene,'' Raj told reporters
outside the court. ''Musharraf is talking about moderation
and enlightenment. We hope he will do something for
Asked about the
prospect of three years in different jails for women, she
said: ''No matter, no matter. We love each other.''
Tariq, wearing a
dark veil, said nothing as the two got into a waiting
police van and drove away.
The court will
resume hearings on June 22 on whether to annul the
couple's marriage, which Tariq's family says contravenes
Islam as well as Pakistani laws against same-sex
initially said that they wed to protect Tariq from being
sold into marriage to pay off her uncle's gambling
debts. They later admitted they had lied about Raj's
sex because they were in love and wanted to live
The judge on
Monday ordered police to open a criminal investigation
against the surgeons who operated on Raj and detail their
findings at the June hearing. (Asif Shahzad, AP)