On a day that a French lesbian love story won the top award at Cannes, two young lesbians from Pakistan became the first Muslim women in Britain to marry in a civil ceremony in what the gay community hailed as a “landmark” event.

Rehana Kausar (34) and Sobia Kamar (29) said they decided to go ahead despite receiving death threats because they believed it was “no one’s business what we do with our personal lives”.

Immediately after tying the knot, they sought asylum in Britain claiming that their lives would be in danger if they returned to Pakistan where homosexuality is illegal and gay people live in fear.

The couple, who met three years ago while studying business and health care management in Birmingham, were reported as saying they had been living together in South Yorkshire for about a year but were able to gather enough courage to come out openly only last month.

According to their relatives, the two had been threatened both in Pakistan and in Britain, and could not find an imam to perform a “nikah”.

Ms. Kausar, originally from Lahore, and Ms. Kamar, from the Mirpur region of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, took vows at Leeds Registry Office under Britain’s Civil Partnership Act 2004 which gives gay couples the same rights and responsibilities that heterosexual couples enjoy in a civil marriage.

Personal act

“This country allows us rights and it’s a very personal decision that we have taken. It’s no one’s business as to what we do with our personal lives. The problem with Pakistan is that everyone believes he is in charge of other people lives and can best decide about the morals of others but that’s not the right approach and we are in this state because of our clergy, who have hijacked our society which was once a tolerant society and respected individuals freedoms,” Ms. Kausar told Birmingham’s Sunday Mercury newspaper.

Ms. Kamar described her partner as a “soul mate” and said she loved her.

Praising them for their courage, a relative said: “They have been very brave throughout as our religion does not condone homosexuality. The couple have had their lives threatened both here and in Pakistan and there is no way they could ever return there.”