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Last Updated: Monday, 28 May 2007, 10:53 GMT 11:53 UK
Pakistan 'same-sex' couple jailed
Shumail Raj (left) and Shahzina Tariq
Shumail Raj (left) and Shahzina Tariq are the focus of attention
A Pakistani court has jailed a married couple for three years for perjury after a dispute over the husband's sex.

Last week the court ruled that the husband was, in fact, a woman, despite sex-change surgery and that the couple had lied about his sexual status.

It also said their marriage was un-Islamic because it was same-sex.

The case is believed the first of its kind in Pakistan. The couple said they would appeal against the sentence and have asked President Musharraf to help.

Shumail Raj, 31, had sex-change surgery to become a man and then married his cousin - who was aware of the condition but says she needed his help to avoid being forced into wedlock with someone else.


He is reported to have undergone surgery twice in Pakistan over the past 16 years to become a man.

But tests carried out by doctors on behalf of the court ruled that Raj, who has a beard an moustache, was still a woman.

He himself says that he needs to go abroad for more treatment even though his breasts and uterus have been removed.

Shumail Raj
Shumail Raj has appealed to President Musharraf for help

The judge, Khawaja Mohammad Sharif, said he was issuing a "lenient" sentence, below the maximum punishment, because the couple had apologised, the Associated Press news agency reports.

He also asked them to pay a fine of 10,000 Pakistani rupees ($165).

Reports said Mr Raj and his 24-year-old wife Shahzina Tariq appeared shocked by the verdict.

"We appeal to President Musharraf to intervene. Mr Musharraf is talking about moderation and enlightenment. We hope he will do something for us," Mr Raj said.

'Against Islam'

Earlier, the couple told the court that they had got married so that the wife could avoid an arranged marriage.

The bride's father wants to annul the wedding on the grounds that it is against Islam for two women to marry.

But the couple argue that they married to protect the bride from being sold into marriage to pay off her uncle's gambling debts.

Shahzina Tariq says they are not homosexuals and they married because they are in love.

The two were arrested a fortnight ago after the bride's family complained about the gender of her husband.

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