September 8th, 2018 is the day Indian government decided to scrape the 158 years old law – Section 377 of Indian Penal Code. This is the same law that made homesexual relatuonships ‘unnatural’ and punishable offences. However, decriminalization of this Section was India’s first step towards true progress. This restored hope and rejuvenated the LGBTQIA+ community’s spirit.
Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju – the two Indian advocates who succeeded in winning the decriminalization of Section 377 – are now rooting for legalising same sex marriages in our country.
Why It’s Important To Legalise Same-Sex Marriages:
India is yet to announce same-sex relationships as legal. Which means, homosexual couples can neither marry each other nor their marriage is legitimate under the Indian law.
Every separately coded Marriage Acts force in our country are translated into “heteronormative underpinnings”. What this means is, searching for a suitable partner to tie the knot with, stands true for heterosexual binaries only. Right from the wedding attire to ornaments to rituals – gender plays a primary role. It dictates who plays the feminine and who takes the masculine role. We all know that both the Hindu and Christian marriage acts specifically refer to a bride and a groom, while giving out the minimum age for marriage.
This resulted in exclusion of same-sex marriages from every set of marriage laws in our country. The consequences of this are massive, because many important rights as citizens, are not available to married LGBTQ Indians. Married LGBTQ Indians can never dream of adopting a child jointly. They are unable to use their right to maintenance, can never name their partner as legalised heirs.
Also, irrespective of any explicit rules enforced by the Reserve Bank of India, homosexual married couples were unable to open joint accounts in banks; because of no legalization laws laid down for same-sex marriages in our country. Furthermore, since the law fails to consider same-sex marriages as family, no visitation rights are provided to them at hospitals.
Legalisation of same-sex marriages will put an end to all the above mentioned and many such issues faced by LGBTQ individuals from our country.
India To Now Push For Legalising Same Sex Marriages:
Almost 25 nations around the globe have legalised same-sex marriages in the past, as well as recent times. Some of the nations on this list include Germany, Matla, Taiwan, Costa Rica among the others. The most recent country to strike down all bans against same-sex marriages and unions is the United States of America. On 26th June 2020, the U.S. Supreme court legalised same-sex marriages in all their fifty states.
The Indian LGBTQIA+ community is spreading awareness regarding the importance of legalising same-sex unions; ever since the decriminalization of Section 377. Arundhati Katju and Menaka Guruswamy – the lawyers behind the fight for community’s dignity – are now rooting to bring LGBTQ marriages under the law in our country; reported the Latest Laws.
Katju said, “What we hope for the future is that this right to choose your partner will include the right for LGBT couples to marry”.
Guruswamy as well as her partner Katju, are actively working on a legal framework “Marriage Project”. The main focus of this project is to constitutionalize homosexual marriages in our country.
The Marriage Project Is Already In Works:
As said by Guruswamy anyone – gay or straight, upper of lower caste, Hindu or Muslim, man or woman – all desire one thing; the recognition of their long lasting union as legal by the law along with the society.
The forty five year old advocate, Guruswamy has said along with same-sex marriages, other kinds of unions that face issues have been included as well.
Menaka Guruswamy said, “In India, inter-caste couples continue to face social stigma even though such relationships are constitutionally legal. Hence, the very act of policing love, seems to have been an integral part of our collective legal history. We are not a country that recognises girlfriend or boyfriend or dating. We are a country that sanctifies one kind of relationship & that is marriage”.
The base work for the ‘Marriage Project’ has already commenced. A gay couple from Kerala – Sonu & Nikesh – recently tied the knot. They already filed a legal plea to make their marriage officially legitimate.
Menaka Guruswamy is absolutely confident that many LGBT youth will begin approaching courts sooner than later. Furthermore, she even suggests changing the law classroom scene into something more diverse.
Let’s hope that India soon joins the list of countries that have legalised homsexual unions and takes its next step towards progress.