Same-sex couple get 3 years

The court found that gender-reassignment surgery was incomplete.

Published May 29, 2007

LAHORE, Pakistan - A couple who sought legal protection from harassment were separated and sentenced to three years in prison Monday for lying to a Pakistani judge that surgery had turned one partner into a man.

Shumail Raj, 31, who was born female but had breast- and uterus-removal operations 16 years ago, and Shahzina Tariq, 26, married last year. They said they married to protect Tariq from being sold into marriage.

Court-appointed doctors who examined Raj said the earlier operations were not complete and Raj was still a woman. Raj, who has a close-cropped beard, has said he wants to go abroad for surgery to become male.

Presiding Judge Kahawaja Mohammed Sharif said he was issuing a "lenient" sentence, below the seven-year maximum, because they had apologized.

The judge also fined them $165 - two months salary for an average Pakistani.

Raj and Tariq appeared shocked by the verdict. Their eyes widened as Sharif announced their punishment, and they briefly clasped each other's arms before police led them away. Raj and Tariq planned to appeal.