Pakistani court jails same-sex couple for perjury

A same-sex couple who sought legal protection from harassment were separated and sentenced to three years in jail for lying to a Pakistani judge that surgery had turned one partner into a man. Shumail Raj, who was born female but had two operations to remove her breasts and uterus 16 years ago, and Shahzina Tariq were jailed Monday after they approached the Lahore High Court for protection against harassment by Tariq's relatives. They said they wed last year to protect Tariq from being sold into marriage to pay off her uncle's gambling debts. Court-appointed doctors examined Raj and decided she was still a woman. The couple admitted they had lied about 31-year-old Raj's gender because they were in love and wanted to live together. Raj, who has a close-cropped beard, has expressed a desire to go abroad for surgery to become male. "There are certainly laws to deal with perjury, so they deserve due punishment," said Hina Jillani, head of the Legal Aid Center of the non-government Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. "But what I believe is that they should have been given some more leniency.