South Asia 16, Son of Roses 16
South Asia 16, Son of Roses 16

These Photos of a South Asian Gay Couple’s Wedding Highlight the Region’s Lack of LGBTQ Rights

While South Asia conjures images of vast deserts, mountain regions and tropical regions densely populated with a colorful hodgepodge of Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist influence, it isn’t exactly an LGBTQ wonderland. A mixture of British colonial laws and religious conservatism have compelled the region’s countries to offer few to no LGBTQ rights. Even those that do still suffer from widespread queerphobia and violence. And that’s exactly what makes Saira Hussain’s recent “Son of Roses photo series so remarkable. By depicting two men getting married in a non-denominational, South Asian wedding, it’s both beautiful and transgressive.

The colorful and intimate shots — created for the Must Be Kismet bridal show and magazine — features Haran Vijayanathan and Humza Mian as the grooms (though they’re not a real-life couple). Together they trade vows, hold one another and pray on their special day. They’re even joined by a female couple who support the men’s celebration of love.

Both Vijayanathan and Mian consider themselves religious: Vijayanathan practices Hinduism and Mian is a Muslim. Vijayanathan says he appreciates how Hindusim “considers people and spirit and life as fluid and ever-changing,” and Mian adds that “the principles of his faith that are most important to him center around being a good person and service to others.”

Here’s a gallery of images from the “Son of Roses” photo shoot:

Mita Patel, a writer with Must Be Kismet magazine says that the “Son of Roses” photo series “aims to spark more discussion about queer weddings and help to create healthy conversations at home. It is one thread in the fabric of our collective stories of union and marriage that shows how love moves us to transcend all differences.”

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A map of the countries of South Asia

While countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and the Maldives offer zero LGBTQ rights (some even punish homosexuality with imprisonment), the South Asian country of Nepal is actually one of the most progressive countries in South Asia having legalized homosexuality in 2005, gender changes in 2007 and LGBTQ anti-discrimination protections in 2015.

And while India and Pakistan have offer some rights for trans individuals, they still have criminalized homosexuality, making it hard for queer love blossom in the region.

What do you think of the Son of Roses photo project and LGBTQ rights in South Asia?