SC verdict plays a spoilsport to marriage plan of live-in gay couple

It took a week for 25-year-old Tinesh Chopade and 28-year-old Abhishek Sharma to realise that there was something special between them. After meeting each other on a social networking site, they found common interests and decided to live together. The gay couple was seriously contemplating marriage after three years of live-in relationship when the Supreme Court gave a verdict against gay sex. "Life goes on and we will continue to live together. Just that we wish to be respected as citizens of the country," the duo said.

Tinesh is the project manager of the HIV prevention programme of Sampathik Trust and has no qualms in 'coming out'. The Trust has reached out to 1,600 Men having Sex with Men (MSM) in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. "After the Delhi HC order that decriminalized homosexuality in 2009, it was easier for people to openly disclose their gay status. Some of my family members and friends are aware of my sexual orientation and have accepted me," Tinesh. His partner Abhishek who hails from Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, has been working in Pune for four years and has now decided to tell his parents next month.

"I have told my brother who maintained a stoic silence and did not broach the subject later on. But I am firm about our relationship and had the Supreme Court given a favourable verdict, our situation would have been easier to handle at home," Abhishek admits.

"So far it has not been difficult as people look at us as two good friends living together and working in a city away from their home,"Abhishek said adding that there have been good experiences and not much bullying.

"The SC verdict really came as a shock. We have been seriously planning to get married as three years of living together has brought us close. We cook together and like any couple have our share of fights," Tinesh said. Both admit that public display of affection was an absolute no no. "We are comfortable with each other and our major concern is acceptance from family members. I have been mustering courage to tell my mother about my gay status. There are emotional issues and I hope they understand that what I have done is not a crime,"Abhishek said. "A favourable SC verdict would have just been the icing on the cake."

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