"why cannot we have the same right to marriage"
Courts in India are hearing petitions seeking to legalise same-sex marriage.
This comes after the Supreme Court overturned a colonial-era law that had made homosexuality a criminal offence in 2018.
Three couples filed petitions, arguing that the state’s refusal to recognise their marriages violates their constitutional rights.
They said that there is no provision in the Special Marriage Act preventing same-sex marriage and that nowhere in the act is marriage restricted to “only between man and woman”.
One petition was filed by Kavita Arora and Ankita Khanna, two mental health professionals who had been living together as a couple for eight years but unable to marry as both were women.
The second petition was filed by Vaibhav Jain, an Indian man, and Parag Vijay Mehta, a non-resident Indian (NRI). They got married in the US in 2017, however, an Indian consulate refused to register their union.
The couple had been in a relationship since 2012. They were supported by their family and friends.
The same-sex couple also said that non-recognition of their marriage prevented them from travelling as a married couple to India.
Since homosexuality in India was decriminalised and gave the right of the union LGBTQ people, many have questioned why they have not legalised same-sex marriage.
Pradeep Kaushal, a gay activist, said:
“It is quite incredible that when we have the freedom to love, why cannot we have the same right to marriage and union. This is not what I imagined.”
Mohnish Malhotra said: “The legal battle has just started I would say… this is phase one.
“And in my point of view, we have just gotten the right to do… like have sex.”
“We are looking forward to the right to be, like everyone else. Without any discrimination, without any discernment, without any judgment.‘”
The LGBTQ community have been unable to generate a social space for the acceptance of same-sex marriage.
India’s solicitor general took a stance against the legalisation of same-sex marriage, telling the court that “our laws, our legal system, our society and our values do not recognise marriage, which is a sacrament, between same-sex couples”.
A hearing on both matters will take place in January 2021.
However, it may be a long process given that it has taken decades to remove state-sanctioned homophobia.
Gautam Bhan said: “We have long said as part of the gay rights movement that the victory in court was not the victory that ended a battle.
“It was a victory that began one. I mean really the fight has started now.”