Fifteen couples got married in a mass wedding ceremony organised for the transgender community

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Over the past two years, backed by a strong transgender community that has fought for its rights, Chhattisgarh has been at the forefront of several initiatives for their uplift, from fighting for employment in Chhattisgarh Police, or Veena Sendre winning a beauty pageant to be crowned Miss Transqueen 2018. But the thought for the Saturday’s event began in earnest the day Section 377 of the IPC was struck down.

It looked like any other marriage. The green lawns of Pujari Vatika in Raipur were decked up in red and orange. Well-dressed guests waited for the bride and groom to step on the stage, throne-like chairs waited for them too. Inside, a more spartan hall was sombre, filled with sounds of prayer, and the smell of smoke.The smoke came from fire as couples sat around them for the ceremony. There were 15 couples, of which every woman was from the transgender community. Over the past two years, backed by a strong transgender community that has fought for its rights, Chhattisgarh has been at the forefront of several initiatives for their uplift, from fighting for employment in Chhattisgarh Police, or Veena Sendre winning a beauty pageant to be crowned Miss Transqueen 2018. But the thought for the Saturday’s event began in earnest the day Section 377 of the IPC was struck down. Siddharth, a member of Maati, an organisation that fights for LGBTQ rights in Chhattisgarh, said, “Work has been done on education and livelihood, but this was something that we felt needed to happen. Thus far, for transgender people, the only social acceptance was sexual. But it needed to go beyond that. So just under a year ago, we began thinking of this, and looked for ways to make it happen, especially after the 377 judgment.”

“This should have happened a long time ago because we transgenders don’t have anybody to share out joys and sorrows. Nobody understands our sorrows. Today the government has given us such a good scheme and has given us an opportunity to get married. I thank them profusely” said Madhu Kinnar, a transgender and the mayor of Raigarh in Chhattisgarh who attended the event. “We are getting life partners, what can be better news than this?” said Ms Madhu adding that the marriage was the first of its kind in the country and hopefully it will set a trend for future such events. According to the 2014 Supreme Court judgement, transgenders are now recognised as “third gender” and enjoy constitutional rights and freedom.

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