Contributor: Kumar Shetty
“The government opposed pleas seeking legalisation of same-sex marriages, and said that the laws mandate that ‘marriage is a bond between a biological man and a biological woman’ only”Kumar Shetty, President, GAURAV
In India, despite the September 2018 Navtej Singh Johar judgement that read down section 377, allowing consensual adult same-sex relationships and the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) 2014 judgement on self-affirmation of gender identity, hence including LGBTIQ community members to have full protection of all Human and Fundamental rights, the situation on the ground has not changed drastically. It requires more advocacy and community empowerment to preserve the fundamental human rights of LGBTIQ persons, as there is an increase in human rights violations, especially of transgender individuals.
Homosexuality has been decriminalised by the Honourable Supreme court of India, but same sex marriage is still not allowed under any government provision. It has been more than two years since the LGBTIQ community began fighting for their marriage rights. There are currently several same-sex marriage petitions pending with the courts in India. The government opposed pleas seeking legalisation of same-sex marriages, and said that the laws mandate that “marriage is a bond between a biological man and a biological woman” only.
The fight is not just for the legal recognition of homosexual marriages. but is also for making LGBTIQ members entitled to various other benefits that come with marriage, such as various social, and economical benefits, which are enjoyed only by heterosexual couples due to legal marriage recognition. In addition to those benefits, there are many other rights which are enjoyed only by recognised married couples, which leaves the entire LGBTIQ community left behind.
The government not only sticks to the normative binaries of female and male, and how the various marriage acts pertain to “biological” genders, it has also claimed that any decision on this matter should reside with the legislature and not the judiciary. The date of hearing in court is extending day by day, and the debate on marriage recognition continues. The outcome of what happens, however, lies in the courts. Many homosexual community members are living with their partners, and have been for many years with love, but without any civil rights and equality.
Marriage legalisation will help queer people to lead a life with dignity. Such recognition will create an enabling environment for everyone. As witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic, where everyone is coming together and supporting each other, irrespective of their sex, gender, and identity. Many LGBTIQ organisations and queer individuals are coming forward, not only supporting LGBTIQ individuals, but also the general population at this unique time. The GAURAV organisation is among those who supported many LGBTIQ people as well as members of the majority general population, who were adversely affected by the lockdown in India.
Do visit www.gauravcbo.org for more information and updates.
About our contributor
Kumar has been working for health and rights of community members for more than 15 years. He started as a community outreach worker providing basic health services and facilities to community members. In 2010 he was the founding executive board member of GAURAV, an LGBT community-based organisation working in Mumbai district.
GAURAV is also part of AASTHA PARIVAAR (Federation of Sex Workers Organizations in Mumbai and Thane), INFOSEM (India Network for Sexual Minorities), APCOM (Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health and APNSW (Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers), and Partner of CONNECT (Network of Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) in India responds to health and human rights of Sexual Minorities).