Recently, the Central government responded to Delhi HC, on the petition for legalizing same-sex marriages in India.
For the uninitiated, same-sex relationships were decriminalized in India 3 years ago in 2018, when Section 377 was struck down. But, it's still not legal to marry a person of the same sex in India.
As per the government, seeking recognition for same-sex marriage is not a fundamental right. Because same-sex marriage is incomparable to the Indian family unit, that only recognizes the union between a biological man and biological woman.
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
As per every person who recognizes that the core elements of any healthy union and family unit are love and respect, this decision is nothing more than the reinforcement of toxic patriarchy and regressive traditions.
The idea should be to have #marriageequality where 2 people irrespective of gender, caste, religion or ethnicity can marry as equal partners and be happy!— Shikhar Gupta (@ShikharGupta25) February 25, 2021
The last time I checked, Marriages in indian culture was said to be between 2 souls. When did it become exclusive for 'biological man and biological woman'?#SameSexMarriage— Suhani⁷ (@joonie_dimples_) February 25, 2021
From circling the holy fire to saying "I Dos" in front of a cross, from bowing down in agreement, to signing the dotted line in front of a magistrate, there are numerous ways in India to marry the person you wish to spend eternity with.
But, according to the government, none of these are a viable option for a section of the society, simply because they chose love over a flawed tradition?
In the government's clinical description of the Indian family unit, there is conveniently no mention of love. And that's exactly where the problem lies. Because, in an absence of love, what the government defines as the ideal Indian family unit is, in multiple cases, neither ideal nor a family. It's simply common.
But just because something is common, does not automatically make it correct.
Even today, domestic violence and dowry are common despite being criminal offenses. There was a time when the practice of Sati was common too. Hell, marital rape is not just common, but also legal. So does that make any of these actions right and acceptable?
Even if I were to not judge an institution by just its flaws, I still can't agree with the myopic view of family that the government, and a significant section of our population, are promoting by rejecting same-sex marriage.
Is a 'bond between a biological man and biological woman' alone what makes a family? Who decided that only heterosexual couples with biological children can lay claim to the term, 'family'?
Do single parents not constitute family? Do parents who adopt not constitute a family? Do couples with no children not constitute a family? Does a single, heterosexual person who chooses to not marry, not deserve a family?
More importantly, why are narrow, flawed, social constructs like gender identity and procreation being used to define a framework that should have love and respect as its cornerstone?
The LGBTQ+ community does not include same-sex partners alone. It also includes transgenders, bisexuals, asexuals, pansexuals, non-binary individuals, etc. By denying them the right to legally cohabit, we're not just denying them the practical benefits of marriage, but also reducing their relationship to merely a sexual relation and nothing else.
Call it partnership or union and don't call it marriage if it's going to ruffle the feathers of conservative people. But you have to get the right to live together as partners. You don't want to call it marriage, fine. But if I want to cohabit with my partner, if I want health benefits, if I want all the other benefits that every other heterosexual couple has, then I should be given that under the constitution of India. Because we all have the right to live with dignity, regardless of our sexual orientation. The essence of this fight is to get equal rights for same-sex partners or even relationships that involve transgender men or women. What are you otherwise trying to say? Are you saying we (LGBTQ+ community) are only here to have sex without procreation? There are so many people that are asexual. They might want to live together, cohabit, start a family. You call it a union, but you have to give it a name. You have to give it legal acceptance.
Today, the LGBTQ+ community has the right to love without fear. But they also deserve to have that love accepted in a way society respects and acknowledges.
Yes, marriage, as a social construct, needs work. Yes, we still need to fight prejudice in society. But just because acceptance will take time, and just because patriarchy won't crumble in a day, does not mean we don't enable the change we can.
It's time we dismiss the arbitrary rules that society has blindly adhered to for decades, and pave the way for a world where "family" is not defined by biology but by love.
Today, India seems to be headed on a dangerous path. It's turning into a country where the government finds it easier to legalize hate (Love Jihad) than to legitimatize love.
So, irrespective of which gender leaves our hearts beating faster, this is a decision we should collectively fight against. And build a world where marriage is truly seen as a union of two souls, and not, two biological bodies.