When the Supreme Court of India struck down the draconian Article 377, that deemed same-sex relationships as illegal, India celebrated in a rainbow of colors, as finally, love won.
But, magnificent and hard-earned as that victory was, it was still not a complete victory. Because Indian law still does not recognize same-sex marriages.
And when two same-sex couples encountered this barrier, they decided to change the law itself.
A petition was filed with Delhi HC to legalize same-sex marriages in India, with lawyers and partners Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju fighting the case.
One of the couples who petitioned the HC is Ankita Khanna and Kavita Arora.
Kavita, 47, and Ankita, 36 have been living together for 8 years now, their love strengthened not just by their mutual affection for Harry Potter but also by their individual, often contrary but complementary tastes and personalities.
As Kavita shared with On News Plus:
Despite how different we are, the space we have created together feels complete.
- Kavita to On News Plus
Or, how Ankita puts it,
No matter how frazzled I am, Kavita is always steady and calm, and able to see humour and optimism in every situation.
- Ankita to On News Plus
Kavita, who is a psychiatrist met Ankita, a psychologist at Kavita's clinic. Their parents not only support their decision but are also frequent visitors to their house.
As Ankita shared with journalist Faye D'Souza in an exclusive interview, for her parents, all that mattered was that she be happy.
Same-Sex Couple Moves Delhi HC To Get Married@ankitakhanna says, "When I was coming out to my parents, they asked me if this is what makes me happy, when I said yes, they said then nothing else matters. I cannot tell you what that meant to me." pic.twitter.com/L54uRW2CU5— Faye DSouza (@fayedsouza) October 19, 2020
Their fight to legalize same-sex marriage in India is born out of both, practical reasons and an emotional desire.
As Kavita shared with Faye, the 'concept of couple' is not recognized for same-sex couples when applying for official documents.
Same-Sex Couple Moves Delhi HC To Get Married@arorakavita says, "For finances, medical decisions, etc the concept of the couple wasn't there for us. I would want her to take my decisions for me. We wanted a solve for this."— Faye DSouza (@fayedsouza) October 19, 2020
Watch the full discussionhttps://t.co/3OGHZTYxXx pic.twitter.com/K4PaDwmvmS
The Hindu too reported, that according to Kavita and Ankita's petition, the lack of a legal framework surrounding their relationship actually made it difficult for them to apply for official documents.
The petitioners’ relationship is not recognised when they need to apply for address verification of their passport, or apply for a joint bank account, or co-own assets. The petitioners wish to have the protection of the bundle of rights that a marriage provides, so that they are not trying to get authorities to acknowledge their relationship for every entitlement or right that married couples would get automatically.
- The plea statement in The Hindu
Of course, this is not an easy battle. Even today, certain sections of society refuse to recognize or respect the LGBTQ+ community.
In fact, in February 2021, the Central government submitted an affidavit to the Delhi HC, stating that in India, marriage was a “bond between a biological man and a biological woman”, and thus same-sex couples could not "claim a fundamental right for same-sex marriage being recognised under the laws of the country."
Centre says that in India, marriage is a bond between a biological man and a biological woman.— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) February 25, 2021
Living together as same-sex partners is not comparable with the Indian concept of a family unit, Centre states. #LGBTQI #SameSexMarriage @pib_law
Netizens vociferously rejected this outdated definition of marriage, but it seems the battle is far from over. Because, recently, on May 28th, the Delhi HC adjourned the plea for recognition of same-sex marriage, to July 6th.
Apparently, the Central government filed for adjournment, stating that only urgent matters were to be heard during the pandemic, and "nobody was dying" due to a lack of marriage certificate.
But, just because it's not an easy battle, does not mean it's not a necessary one, and Kavita and Ankita continue the fight for equality.
The hearing of the petitions for marriage equality has been adjourned to 6 July. We hold on, we wait, and we remind ourselves that India is its Constitution’s country- built on the values of equality and dignity 🌈 #marriageequality #LGBTQIA #india— Ankita Khanna (@ankitakhanna) May 24, 2021
Hopefully, Kavita and Ankita's petition marks yet another win for love, paving the way for a world where every couple of legal age, who wishes to get married, can do so, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity.