You must remember this. A kiss is just a kiss. Unless it’s also an act of defiance.
That was the case with British boxer April Hunter, who recently posted a selfie kissing her girlfriend while on holiday in The Maldives, a nation made up of a group of islands located in the Indian Ocean south of India.
What made this simple gesture of romance a bold act was that The Maldives is an Islamic nation operating under what is commonly, but incorrectly, called “Sharia Law.” Sharia, which literally means “the way,” is a collection of Koran-based guidance that directs Muslims toward living a proper Islamic life, according to a law professor at the University of Wisconsin. And that guidance outlaws same-sex relations.
According to Pink News, homosexuality “is punishable by up to eight years in prison for non-Muslims.”
Suddenly, a kiss was no longer just a kiss.
Hunter, who identifies as a lesbian, originally posted the photo to her social media feed while she was in The Maldives. She also accompanied the photo with a caption reading, “Illegal to be gay in the Maldives and other Muslim countries still, in this day and age is mental, anyways this is our thought.”
That was exactly the kind of thought that Hunter’s friends and family worried could have been dangerous, and according to The Sun’s Marc Mayo, Hunter took down the post after their friends and family expressed their fears for her safety. Once she and her partner returned to the U.K., she uploaded it again.
It should be noted that The Maldives has repeatedly welcomed gay couples to its tourism hotspots and beaches. Stefan Arestis of the LGBTQ travel blog Nomadic Boys has written of the country, “Although the situation for LGBTQ locals is not great, fortunately for gay tourists, the economy of The Maldives relies so heavily on tourism. As such, pink dollars are very welcome, especially at the large privately resort islands.”
However, Arestis still recommended that gay couples be “discreet and avoid public displays of affection.” With that warning in mind, Hunter’s public kiss with her partner was undoubtedly a truly brave act and statement of her humanity.
Pink News further elaborated on the dangers Hunter potentially faced by citing a Human Rights Watch statement that “extremist groups in The Maldives have previously ‘used social media to harass and threaten those who promote the rights of LGBT people.’”
As a professional boxer, Hunter is currently 2-0-0. And when it comes to fighting the good fight, she’s also undefeated.