Sonia and Rahul were college sweethearts. First each other’s best friends and then each other’s companions. Both their families were progressive, so the caste difference between them didn’t matter. When the time was right, both of them decided to get married by having a grand wedding, followed all the rituals, got their marriage certificate too which confirmed that, both of them are legally married to each other giving Sonia the legal right as Rahul’s spouse and vice versa.
Now imagine, what would the situation be if it were Sanjana and Sonia or Rahul and Raj wanting to get married to each other? Well, in that case, they could have a domestic partnership, i.e., they can be in a live-relationship but cannot get married to each other. Why? Because the Government of India itself would not consider them as wife and wife or husband and husband, because according to the current Indian law, same sex marriages or LGBTQIA+ marriages are not granted legal recognition. All this because the Indian laws are based on ideas of heteronormativity.
India has developed tremendously as a nation. From launching a satellite on Mars to developing good external affairs with different nations, India and its people have proved that we are emerging strongly. But at the same time, our laws are reluctant towards change, towards inclusivity, towards homosexuality and the legal rights of everyone belonging to the LGBTQIA+.
It would not be right to say that the government has turned a blind eye towards the people from the community, because we have seen some historic actions taken towards rights of this community like decriminalization of section 377, registering transgender as third gender, legal cohabitation of same sex people. We can see the change, but is slow paced.
Effects on mental health
The LGBTQ+ community in India has fought tremendously for many years for their rights, both basic and legal. But it aches to see how a heterosexual person does not have to fight for all these basic rights, while a queer has to. Seeing someone easily get what they want while you have to struggle tremendously for the same thing, in itself adds a feeling of sadness and annoyance.
Marriage is also one of the basic rights for the citizens of India. Holding a marriage certificate or being legally married is not only to label as couple as a “married couple”. There are other important aspects related to it like nomination of the spouse for insurance, inheriting rightful properties, claiming Mediclaim and claiming pension post death of the spouse etc. This means that both the spouses have legal rights on each other.
Depriving the couple all these legal rights that comes with marriage, causes tremendous effects on their mental health. How?
India is considered to be a country who welcome people from different castes, religions etc. We have also welcomed the people from LGBTQ+ community, but by not providing them all their legal rights shows their exclusion from the society. Won’t that add hopelessness within them?
The Indian Marriage acts says that two consenting adults from any race, caste or religion have a right to get married. By not legalizing the LGBTQ+ marriage, the law is proving that we still haven’t accepted the community completely. This shows the social rejection which leads to psychological and emotional distress.
Mahatma Gandhi has quoted, “Where there is love, there is life”. By not providing the legalization for the same sex marriage or LGBTQ+ marriage, the government is discarding any idea of love that exists within the LGBTQ+ community and why, because according to our government the marital bond should only be heteronormative as that is the “ideal” concept of family as a unit, an ideal concept of marriage.
The psychological aspects like stress, extreme anxiety, depression is given, because by not legalizing same sex or LGBTQ+ marriage an indirect message is been given to the people from the community that they are still deprived from their basic rights. The after effects of this are shock, trauma and psychological deterioration.
The news of a petition being filed for the rights of same sex marriage is making rounds. The petition has been filed by a couple, who are resident of Paris, France. One of the partners holds Canadian citizenship and is Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholder whose extended family lives in India. The other partner has a US citizenship. The couple stated that they got married in 2012 and have their marriage documents, i.e., certificate of marriage issued by Office of the City Clerk of New York. However, they are not getting legal status of being a married couple, neither are they getting rights as each other’s spouses, in India as the law does not legalize same- sex marriage.
On 6th July 2021, the Delhi high Court has issued a notice to Centre with a petition to legalise same sex marriage and to make it a fundamental right under the Article 14, 15, 21 respectively. The hearing date for the same case would be 27th August 2021.
(The article is an opinion piece by Shriya Rajendra Khalate, MA Clinical Psychology and counselor. She is also the co-founder at Unico. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author's own. The Bridge Chronicle neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)