The industrial city of Karaganda in northeastern Kazakhstan has seen an event utterly out of the ordinary for the former Soviet Union: a wedding between two women.
The couple organized the symbolic wedding to celebrate their union, the Vox Populi website reports in a photo story showing the elaborate celebration, which included all the usual trappings: from the white limousine that the bride and groom ride in during more traditional celebrations to the flutes of champagne to toast the happy couple.
The marriage has no legal force in Kazakhstan, where same-sex weddings are not recognized by law – but the two women, identified only as Karolina and Kristina, decided to tie the knot symbolically. As Vox Populi put it, “love has no law.”
The pictures showed the elegant couple – one wearing a white wedding dress and the other a white suit – popping champagne corks and following the usual tradition of stopping off at popular sites around the city to have a glass of champagne with wedding guests.
When the wedding party dropped into a shopping mall to buy some food, eyebrows were raised, said Vox Populi. It described onlookers' mood as “spiteful,” with “hostile looks from the shoppers, whispering into walkie-talkies by the security guards, surprised looks from the salespeople.”
The LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community tends not to be very visible in Kazakhstan, where anecdotal evidence suggests that members face widespread discrimination.
Vox Populi’s story on the wedding sparked a lively discussion thread, with some participants openly and proudly voicing those prejudices while others stood up in defense of LGBT rights.
“Go where you want,” urged one user called Mayra. “My long-suffering Motherland will not lose anything.” Her comments became increasingly homophobic until the moderator threatened to ban her.
Commentators on the other side of the fence were just as vocal. One user called Chita accused those engaging in outpourings of homophobic vitriol of living “in the captivity of stereotypes – in the stone age,” suggesting that Kazakhstan had more important issues to tackle such as rampant corruption.
Back at the wedding in Karaganda, the happy couple was already looking to the future, planning to start a family by using in-vitro fertilization. “We’ll save some money and there will definitely be children,” Kristina told Vox Populi.