Nikesh Usha Pushkaran and Sonu MS, who are considered as the first married gay couple in Kerala, have moved the Kerala High Court seeking the legalization of same-sex marriages. Alleging that the provisions of the Special Marriage Act 1954 only recognizes heterosexual couples, and hence, are discriminatory. They pointed out that many liberties like marriage and adoption are still not in the reach of the queer community despite the Supreme Court of India repealing the controversial Section 377 in 2018.
The Act would also grant all registered couples access to many civil rights such as insurance and workplace benefits like adoption leave and bereavement leave, which are currently not provided to queer couples. This is a serious shortcoming when it comes to ensuring a diverse workforce and creating a sense of equality in society as a whole.
The couple hailing from Kochi had got married in July 2018 in the Guruvayur temple, but the religious authorities did not allow the solemnization of the marriage. They then approached the court for registering their marriage legally, filing a writ petition to bring homosexual couples under the ambit of the Act as well. Earlier, they had also been subject to a lot of humiliation and a horde of homophobic comments, trolls, and insults after they went public with their relationship. This had even pushed them to have a secret ceremony to evade any negative public reactions.
The Act is another instance of laws that blatantly disregard the idea of social equality, and the couple’s fight to ensure visibility to queer marriages is especially relevant at a time when struggles of many sexual minorities are beginning to achieve mainstream attention post the decriminalization of homosexuality.
Refusal by the court to amend the discriminatory Act would only add to the pain and distress many members of the community just like the petitioners are going through, thereby labelling a critical aspect of their existence as unconstitutional.