Gujarati-Maharashtrian gay couple is willing to take on society, political leaders head on to get their marriage recognised
Two men in Mumbai are planning to marry each other. Not quietly, but with a full-fledged Hindu ceremony -- including mehendi, haldi, et al -- the first such wedding in the city.
The fact that homosexual marriage is not legal in India does not deter Jignesh (22), a Gujarati from Mulund, who will marry Sameer (25), who lives in Bandra, next month.
Dilwale dulhas: Jignesh and Sameer even plan to adopt a baby
Narrating his two-year-old love story, Jignesh said, "We love each other. However, society hates us. We have decided to marry to give each other respect. We will marry in a resort away from Mumbai according to Hindu rituals. Our friends and relatives will bless us. We will fight if there is any hurdle to get it registered," he said.
The couple had planned to get married on December 31, but had to postpone their plans, as no pandit was willing to perform the ceremony.
"One pandit demanded Rs 50,000 to Rs 75,000, which we could not afford. But this time we will marry, come what may. Even if no pandit is willing, we will play a cassette of marriage shlokas," added Jignesh.
When asked if they were prepared to face their families and society, Sameer said, "We will try to make our families accept us. I'm sure there will be a hue and cry from leaders of our society, but we are not bothered.
We are ready to fight the world for our love."
Reminiscing about their first meeting, Jignesh recalled, "Some years ago, I got depressed when one of my friends died of cancer. I even tried to commit suicide. Around two years ago, a friend took me to an NGO and there I was introduced to Sameer. We started out as friends and later fell in love."
Jignesh plans to play the perfect wife and even fast on Karwa Chauth for Sameer.
After the marriage, the couple plans to rent a home in Mulund and even adopt a child. However, this may be
Dr Nilima Mehta, ex-chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee and professor in social work with TISS and Nirmala Niketan, said there was currently no law that supported adoption by a same sex couple.
"The CARA (Central Adoption Resource Authority) guidelines don't have a clause on this and, therefore, adoption agencies can't legally hand over children to gay couples. A few years ago, there was hesitancy in granting custodianship to single parents too, but that has changed. We will have to wait and see if there is an attitudinal shift," said Mehta.
(Inputs by Alisha Coelho )
(Names of the couple have been changed to protect their identities)
One Mumbai lawyer working with gay groups said that recently he had received a call from a 60-year-old man who'd been living with his partner for many years and wanted to know about what would happen to the flat if he died.
"It's a practical question and they've increased since the Delhi HC ruling on section 377 last year. That said, marriage is still governed by religious laws. Marriage holds symbolic value, it's got no legal meaning," said the lawyer, explaining that same sex couples were getting more aware of creating wills and buying property jointly.
However, lawyers championing gay rights still feel that other issues supersede the need for legal sanction of marriages. "It's a idea that's far, far off right now," said advocate Siddharth Narrain of the Alternative
"Many already live with their partners and don't feel the need to marry.
On the other hand, there are still cases of physical torture and discrimination that need to be dealt with before venturing on to marriage," added Narrain.
|Did you know?|
Denmark was the first country to recognise same sex marriages as registered partnerships. The first gay marriage took place in 1989
|around the world|
>>Same sex marriages are legal in the US states of New Hampshire, Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut
>>In the UK, same sex couples can enter into civil partnership (introduced in 2005) that gives partners legal rights of marriage such as tax exemptions, joint property rights, next-of-kin status and shared parenting responsibilities.
Other countries where same sex marriages are recognised Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway and Sweden