After successfully fighting for the decriminalization of Section 377, lawyers Arundhati Katju and Menaka Guruswamy have now decided to fight for legalisation of gay marriage in India.
The lawyers played a key role in undoing the draconian, Imperial-era law that criminalized "unnatural" sex in September 2018. While the historic Supreme Court verdict provided a huge shot in the arm for the LGBTQIA+ movement in India. Two years since, the community seems to be asking, what next? And the power couple, Guruswamy and Katju, have the solution: Marriage Project.
The need to legalise marriages for same-sex and LGBTQIA couples arose soon after the decriminalisation of Section 377. In a country like India, marriage is the only legal and socially acceptable form of union between two partners.
“In India, inter-caste couples continue to face social stigma, even though such relationships are constitutionally legal," Bussiness Insider quoted Guruswamy as saying. Hence, the very act of policing love, seems to have been an integral part of our collective legal history. We are not a country that recognises girlfriend or boyfriend or dating. We are a country that sanctifies one kind of relationship and that is marriage," she added.
Marriage as a social and legal necessity
In India where all relationships are measured from the lens of permissibility, marriage is the only one that holds water, both in court as well as in the eyes of society. Some, however, have claimed that marriages are more social than legal in nature and that until modern times, many marriages that were accepted by society, took place without any legal proceedings.
While same-sex marriages are not legally allowed, couples can opt for a Civil Union under the Special Marriages Act 1954. With Section 377 declawed, however, many from the LGBTQIA community itself have come forth to challenge the illegality of gay marriages. Sonu and Nikesh Pushkaran, who secretly got 'married' at a Kerala temple in July 2018, have petitioned the Kerala High Court in order to legalize their marriage.
As of now, twenty eight countries across the world have legalised same-sex marriages and several Western democracies accept civil unions between same sex couples.
The decriminalisation of Section 377 has brought about a shift in mindsets for LGBTQI relationships and same-sex marriages. Even Bollywood has tried to adapt to the shifting gender dynamics with films like the Ayushmann Kurrana-starrer "Shubha Mangal Zyada Savdhaan" and "Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga" starring Sonam Kapoor.
Guruswamy and Katju hope that with more and more young LGBTQIA couples such as the same-sex couple from Kerala approaching courts, sema sex weddings may not be such a far cry in India after all.