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The Fate Of Same-Sex Couples In India

I wrote about two critical topics, Same-Sex Marriage & Civil Union in India, and a friend suggested that I write it up here as well. Here it is, the two stories, almost copy-pasted from the stories on my personal page on Medium, but combined into one.

On Same-Sex Marriage & Civil Union

Marriage between same-sex partners is currently a topic of debate in India. Rumour has it that two wonderful lawyers have decided to get ‘marriage-between-same-sex-persons’ legalised in India. You may know of them as two lawyers who fought for the decriminalisation of homosexuality by bringing down section-377 of IPC; Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju.

Now they’re again onto something, picking up “The Marriage Project” as they’re calling it. But it’s India we live in, we still have other problems when it comes to marriage. Neither am I a lawyer, nor have I ever dreamed of being married, but just by the virtue of existence, that too in a place like Delhi, I think I might have heard some terms that boggle me.

For starters, I don’t know under which of the following will same-sex marriage be legalised.

  1. Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872
  2. Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936
  3. Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937
  4. Special Marriage Act, 1954
  5. Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
  6. Anand Marriage (Amendment) Act, 2012
  7. Boudha (Buddhist) Marriage Act 2017

Would it have to be legalised under respective religions?Won’t the religious factions oppose same-sex marriage? What about divorce & separation?

Don’t even get me started on the caste problem leading to at least 20 heartbreaks in India right now as you read this [am sure the number is much more].

So far, the Special Marriage Act, 1954, seems to cover marriages of all religions — Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi, Jew, and also inter-religion marriages. It also encompasses provisions for NRI folks’ marriages. Hence, it might be fit to introduce same-sex marriage under the Special Marriage Act. An alternative that I can think of though, instead of a controversial same-sex marriage law that may take years to implement (because trouble-making religious factions after all), is a legal CIVIL UNION between same-sex individuals

A few things we can get with a Civil Union — a legal union between same-sex partners similar to marriage — are:

  1. For starters, a marriage of same-sex couples legalised abroad may be considered as a legal civil union/civil partnership in India. So your dollars of flying overseas to get married won’t get wasted.
  2. Secondly, you may not have to spend your entire life’s savings (and sometimes your parents’) to be able to settle abroad because you’ll get rights — hospital visitation rights, transfer of property, health insurance, taxes, co-habitation, owning property together, adoption, medically assisted procreation (test-tube babies), dependent rights — right here.[I don’t understand taxes so I would love my partner to take full responsibility of doing taxes & insurance things]
  3. Whereas marriages have traditionally been between individuals of opposite sexes, civil unions may be allowed between mixed-sex couples as well (including non-binary and trans folks).

I understand many people in the LGBTQ+ community will get emotional (angry) reading this, thinking, “why don’t we get the same rights as everyone else.” Which is a valid ask… but you have to realise that you’re an Indian before anything else, and being an Indian comes with the responsibility of keeping yourself from offending many religions and opinions. So, though I understand that a marriage is a marriage, a legal partnership may never take that place (emotionally), still, technically speaking, especially for a place like India, it will be a stepping-stone.

Meanwhile, enjoy being an Indian! 😀

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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