Mumbai's LGBTQ community: Want to go to Germany and get married

As Berlin legalises same-sex marriage, a wistful sigh goes up from Mumbai

German MP Mechthild Rawert wearing a rainbow scarf takes a picture prior to a vote on same-sex marriage in Berlin yesterday. Pic/AFP
German MP Mechthild Rawert wearing a rainbow scarf takes a picture prior to a vote on same-sex marriage in Berlin yesterday. Pic/AFP

The news travelled as fast as cars blitzing down German super highways. As German lawmakers voted yesterday to legalise same-sex marriage, a resounding cheer went up in India, but not without a wistful note.

For the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) community in Fatherland, the government approval was the fall of their German wall. In Mumbai, it reminded the community of how far we still have to go.

"Every time a country votes to legalise same-sex marriage, it is inevitable that queer Indians think how far we have to go to catch up with these countries," said a member from the gay community in Mumbai, underscoring the widespread reaction.

Clinical psychologist Richa Vashista, who counsels gay persons, including many couples, said, "I got a call just around an hour after the news of Germany broke. A young Indian gay man was on the line. He said to me: 'I want to go to Germany, find somebody and get married there.'"

Hope floats
She said although the statement may sound flip and a knee jerk reaction to the news, "it shows that some queer persons do aspire like others to get married; some may want to have children." "They feel the horrendous inequality that one section of society is allowed to do that. In fact, their aspirations are considered normal or expected, but another can only dare to dream."

Vashista said many of her "realistic" clients do not think that same sex marriage will be allowed in India any time soon. "But maybe, the next generation will have this freedom. It will come. It is inevitable, sooner or later."

For pioneering LGBTQ activist Ashok Row Kavi, the German news should "shame" India. "Considering that India has one of the largest demographics of gay men in the world, and they continue to be steamrolled, what does it say for the country? Not very much, I'm afraid."

Long way to go
Kavi, who does sensitisation talks with the police, said the "police themselves are fed up of laws like section 377 (which is often used to harass the LGBTQ community) of the IPC, and think why they should be concerned about what goes on in the bedrooms of people, instead of tackling urgent crimes."

The Humsafar Trust, a non-profit in Mumbai that works for queer rights, simply acknowledged that India had a long way to go. But, it was "very happy for Germany".

Look West wishlist
Sheldon H, part of Mumbai-based gay choir Rainbow Voices, said, "My friend was just reading out the news about Germany. I was cheering. My partner, though, thought that Germany had already legalised same-sex marriage. He was surprised it happened now."

Sheldon said Germany's move has "given wings" to his dream of moving to the West with his partner. "One reason is, of course, for better work prospects. But Germany is now part of my 'migrate to' option, because a country that allows same sex marriage is a big draw."

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