But the moment proved bittersweet for the couple, as both come from Iran – a country where homosexuals can pay with their lives for falling in love.
In Iran, the pair would have faced a penalty of 50 lashes for the first time they were caught together, a punishment that would have been repeated on a further two occasions. Had they been caught together a fourth time, the death penalty would be applied.
‘I’m glad that this is a happy couple who can now form family after many years of struggle,’ added a thrilled Imam Zahed. ‘It’s a long journey to leave your homeland, come to a foreign country and manage to form a new life together.’
Safe in the Swedish capital Stockholm, however, the pair, who met online, was free to enjoy their big day which took place during the city’s Pride week. Maryam, who is expecting the couple’s first child, and Sahar, who suffers from congenital brittle bones, were blessed by Iman Ludovid Mohamed Zahed.
The holy man, who is based in South Africa, is also gay and has become a household name among LGBT activists from Muslim countries. Speaking after the ceremony, Algerian-born Zahed told of his delight at the couple’s happiness and revealed his admiration for their bravery in pursuing a new life abroad.
‘I am very grateful for this beautiful wedding,’ he revealed, ‘and to be able to give my blessing to this happy couple.’