Here’s what I think of the recent discussion on the legal recognition of same-sex marriages.
I wrote this article twice before I wrote this version of it. I got too much into facts, forgetting that my opinion, feelings and thoughts are what I’d like to share. Hope it will be taken in that spirit. I am definitely open to DISCUSSION but not an ARGUMENT.
To me, marriage is a celebration of two people who come together because they love each other and not because of any other reason. The whole idea of marriage is that you choose to live with someone for the rest of your life, i.e., if you believe in monogamy.
Else, marriage is not important. But the RIGHT TO MAKE that CHOICE is very important. Leave it to me to decide what the end point or dynamics of my relationships are and will be.
If marriage was so sacred, then there would not be so many divorces and separations. We can choose wrong, and that’s alright. But we need a democratic, progressive system which is pro “Choice”.
What is our fear of same-sex marriages? That our children, when they look at queer couples, would want to be queer? That is quite ridiculous! If you could choose to be queer, then you could reverse that choice, and everyone would be happy. But in the affidavit filed by the Centre, they have stated that queer and hetero individuals are different. Which clearly means that you cannot choose to be queer.
This also implies that one is better than the other (Queer is definitely better than everyone :)), which violates the equality that our constitution gives us.
Is marriage the only way one can avail of legal benefits? That is not actually true.
A live-in relationship has 3 categories and all of them are legal.
1.Live-in relationship between an unmarried couple.
2. Live-in relationship between two individuals in which one or both are married
3.Live-in relationship between same-sex partners.
Same-sex has been given recognition under the legal definition of a live-in relationship. What is lacking, though, is nobody honours this at the institutional level, like banking, insurance, etc. Though it does not discriminate on paper, it does in practice. It’s not just a problem for queer folks, but a big issue for hetero folks too. While women are protected in a live-in relationship under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence (PWDV) Act, of 2005, there is no such act for men and women in same-sex relationships. We need to extend this law to queer folks too, but not just under live-in relationships scenarios. In all scenarios. They need protection from their own families in more than one way. They are very vulnerable to domestic violence and abuse.
Our constitution gives us the RIGHT TO LIFE and TO CHOOSE and our legal system recognises this and protects all individuals under it. But the problem is the stigma. Not just around Queer relationships, but around anything outside the usual.
It’s like society takes pleasure in other people’s misery and makes sure everyone is miserable together. I believe that when two people, any two people, irrespective of their caste, age or sexual orientation are truly happy with each other, they can only spread more happiness around them.
Single folks, again, are silently and sometimes not so silently harassed. They face a tough time declaring a nominee or a beneficiary outside of their immediate family, even though the law has already extended the definition of familial relationships.
a Supreme Court bench, comprising Justices Chandrachud and A.S. Bopanna, widened the definition of a ‘family’ and observed that “familial relationships may take the form of domestic, unmarried partnerships or queer relationships.”
I think what is more important is that the stigma should be treated first and live-in relationships of all kinds should have more recognition when it comes to systems like banking, insurance, real estate, inheritance, etc., without any hassles or harassment.
If the majority believes that marriage is the only way to go past these issues, then let’s fight for it. But I do believe society does not care much about the law unless it’s enforced pragmatically. I would include the rights of unmarried couples, single people and queer people, together in this fight for what I would like to call the “LET ME LIVE” law. Let’s fight to protect our right to CHOOSE. Allow each one to be responsible for their own choices and do not discriminate against them for enforcing their right to be. When we suppress one and succeed in it, we can suppress another, even more easily. May logic and rationality prevail over regressive ideologies.
Written by- Sunali Aggarwal, CEO- As You Are.