28 February, 2021

Defending Sappho

Defending Sappho
Delegates at the first conference of lesbian and gay associations in Asia met in Mumbai recently and discussed the rising number of lesbian suicides in Kerala. They identified the stigma attached to same-sex relationships in an otherwise progressive state as one of the reasons. Little did they anticipate that a Thrissur court would try to resolve the issue.

In a landmark verdict to a case of same-sex love—the first of its kind to be judged ever by a Kerala court—the magistrate allowed two women nurses to live "together forever". The problem came to the judicial magistrate’s court when Shiby of Adinali in Idukki district and Prema of Kollangode in Palakkad district were arrested in Thrissur following a complaint filed by Shiby’s brother about their "strange" relationship.

Despite all-round efforts, the two nurses refused to relent and the police, without any legal precedent to go by, produced them before the court. The court, after listening to the women’s plea, and the versions of their relatives and the police, allowed Shiby and Prema to live together.

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