Same Sex Marriage: India Can Do Better

This is an excerpt from my article on The Huffington Post.

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It is the bleak reality that the vast majority of gay women and men in the world still marry opposite-sex partners. Legalisation of same-sex marriage is but a distant dream for most LGBT+ people. They desperately require societal change before any change in law - such as not facing the risk of alienation or "shaming the family" for coming out, or to not risk losing their job simply for falling in love with the "wrong" sex. This is the reality of modern India, and many men and women in America today. It is then the failure of same-sex marriage advocates to consider the real life context and diversity of those LGBT+ citizens it purports to serve, that India's LGBT+ movement could learn from. While these societal barriers in the US may be primarily religiously driven, India clearly has much more to contend with.

An example of how not to do it is Celina Jaitley's American-style gay-liberation. As part of the UN's 'Free and Equal' campaign, her video features a male, fair-skinned, seemingly wealthy same-sex Indian couple who are quickly accepted by their family at their wedding - it gets a plus point for using Hindi rather than English, but the portrayal is of the least marginalised of LGBT+ in India. Would a female same-sex couple with a darker complexion, one perhaps from a Scheduled Caste and the other a Muslim, have shaken up India too much? Heterosexual India needs to be enlightened as to the reality of LGBT+ India around them, rather than confining LGBT+ people to a Bollywood prototype. I digress to accept that films like Dostana, with its underlying message of gay acceptance, may provide a starting point for LGBT+ sensitisation, but we must ask the question: in a highly diverse, class and caste-structured society like India, can these efforts translate into meaningful change for all LGBT+ people?


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