Marriage resembles an enormous industry, starting from finding your partner to planning your honeymoon. People love to talk about their marriages, its celebration, food, dress, ornaments and travel altogether; more like a great Indian fest.
But in India (both in rural and urban context) finding a partner for marriage connotes heterosexual binaries only. Followed by the attire, one must be feminine and the other masculine. The same thread follows in the choice of ornaments, tradition, rituals and so on, where gender plays the primary role.
Marriage is the primary social institution to start a family. It strives as a cling to the bell moment to begin the legitimate conjugal life in India. Thinking beyond binary marriages, this moment is missing by default for same-sex couples.
Marriage brings the spectrum of caste, religion, race and now, sex. We have constitutional laws safeguarding inter-caste, inter-religion and inter-race marriages, but they don’t have social acceptance and accreditation. Also, there is a high risk of community enforced violence with newly-wed couples from such marriages.
On September 8, 2018, the Supreme Court of India decriminalized the 158 years old Section 377 of Indian Penal Code, which rejected same-sex relationships for being “unnatural” and a punishable offence under the purview of law. This judgement was a watershed moment for Indian history. The judgement brought hope and ignited the spirit of the LGBTQIA+ community’s age long struggle.
Looking into the facts, India has decriminalized, but has yet to legalize same-sex relationships. Thus, same-sex couples cannot get married to each other, and neither is their marriage legitimate in India.
In India, legitimacy of love is marriage because we lack legal terms to explain love relationships without marriage. Marriage is an accreditation both on the social and legal spectrum.
Again, the legal approval acts as a backbone for fellow citizens, and it acts as a reinforcement of social acceptance.
Our country has a colonial history of bringing social transformation holding the hand of law, like the abolishment of the Sati system in 1829. Although, a huge mass movement was followed for the adequate implementation of the act and the reawakening of citizens.
Firstly, we have to make it very clear that same-sex marriages are just like any other heterosexual marriage. The Constitution of India provides our fundamental right to life with dignity and respect.
We all are citizens of the same country; thus the law is the same for all.
According to a joint study by the Danish Research Institute for Suicide Prevention and researchers from Stockholm University, suicide rates have fallen by 46% in the periods of 1989–2002 and 2003–16, after the legalization of same-sex marriage in Denmark and Sweden.
In 1989, Denmark became the first country to accept same-sex relationships, followed by 28 other countries. Consequently, in 2009, Sweden became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage, followed by Denmark in 2012.
Taking this study into consideration, our modern and progressive India must think of a step ahead to encourage sound mental and social health of its citizens.
Additionally, Article 15 (1) of the Constitution of India provides no discrimination of the citizen on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.
Article 21 assures protection of life and personal liberty so that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.
Thus, no one can restrict the court of law to make same-sex marriages legitimate, rather the constitution emphasizes the need to safeguard and make provisions against discrimination.
Legalizing same sex marriage in India is an ongoing struggle for the Indian LGBTQIA+ community.
Already, two men have filed a petition in the Kerala High Court after getting married in a temple to legitimize their marriage in the court of law.
Thus, there is a ray of hope that all couples in this Indian democracy will live their life with dignity and will enjoy their personal freedom. It will be a stepping stone to harness our new and progressive India.
But the community has to regain its power and lead this movement so that the spark reaches more people, crossing boundaries.
“I wake up every morning seeing my partner still sleeping next to me
I look outside the window to catch some fresh light,
I pray this light gives us the power to fight;
I hope this light ties our wed knot too….”
– An optimist soul.