Rekha Pachauri: Marriages are an imperative part of the Indian society: Socially and psychologically. Socially because every single person wants to achieve a well thought-of social status and automatically it becomes the reason for psychological importance of marriage.
It is natural for us to congratulate and give our best wishes for the future when we come to know that someone is about to get married. But will we do the same or react in a similar fashion if the couple getting married is of the same sex? Most of us will definitely react negatively or at least we would be hesitant in passing our blessings to such a couple.
In a country like India where marriages are the legal and social license to have sex, the reservations about same sex marriages have to do more about two individuals indulging in a physical relationship with the person of the same gender than the idea of marriage itself. The idea of being homosexual offends majority of the people because of the long held notion of it being immoral and evil which is the result of the age-old dogmas to which the individuals still subscribe to.
Even in heterosexual marriages the topic of sex remains a taboo and as a society we don’t acknowledge it. When such rigidity is displayed in the case of socially approved heterosexual marriages then such taboo marriages will hardly find any approval.
Another argument apart from homosexuality being unnatural is that of conceiving a child in the case of same-sex marriages. For the Indian society conception of a child is not about choice but it is a duty for the married couple to procreate so naturally same sex couples are incapable of it by themselves; even though surrogacy and child adoption can be used to overcome this hurdle.
Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a remnant of the colonial era, states that sexual intercourse against the order of the nature is a punishable offence. Even though same-sex relationships have been found to be fairly common in the animal kingdom therefore it should be deemed natural and not unnatural because it goes against our societal or religious views.
During the 2000s in some parts of America and Europe the civil movement for legalizing the same sex marriage got significant recognition. Now around 23 countries in the world including the United States of America have legalized same sex marriages.
The self-proclaimed saints and the saviors of the Indian culture are another force who continuously try to derail the processes of social acceptance of same-sex couples. Baba-Ramdev called homosexuality a disease which he assures can be cured with the help of Yoga. The biggest irony here being that even though these the proponents of religion and culture yet they seem to be as ignorant about it as anybody else.
As per Hindu mythology, in Shiva Purana the union of Shiva and Mohini results in parturition of Hanumana. In another tale, Aravana the son of Arjun and Ulupi, the Naga princess, has to sacrifice himself in the battle of Kurukshetra for the victory of Pandavas but the only wish he had was that he didn’t want to die unmarried. Shri Krishna then transubstantiates himself into Mohini for one day and even spends the night with Aravana as his wife and the next day even observes the customs of mourning which are expected of a widow when Aravana dies.
In the Southern Indian region, the Villagers perform the eighteen day epic kurukshetra and on the last day mourn the death of Aravana like his widows. Transgender form a bulk of these mourners. There are ample of tales and stories which give enough grounds to the fact that same sex marriages have been a part of the Hindu mythology. Similar disapproval can also be found among the religious leaders and the clerics of almost every religion. They do not agree on any single point in the name of religion but they all tend to agree against homosexuality calling it a malady that needs to be deracinated.
The big question remains that how can a mere orientation of affection towards a particular sex appear to be wrong in the eyes of the religion and the law? The constitution of India provides for one’s personal liberty and freedom and ensures that no one is able to deprive an Indian citizen of this fundamental right. The state cannot discriminate anyone on the grounds of religion, sex, race, cast, color, creed or place of birth.
According to the data provided by the Ministry of Health to the Supreme Court in 2012, our population includes 2.5 million homosexuals. So as per the concept of fundamental rights, homosexuals also have an equal liberty lo live life as they want and with whomever they want. Few years back, Delhi High court decriminalized the section 377 that Supreme Court unturned. Now one of the most marginalized and abused section of our society is hoping to breathe free through gaining social acceptance and recognition. They are asking for nothing more, than to stop discriminating against them on the grounds of sexual orientation.
We definitely need to extend this recognition and acceptance after all the broader the perspective the better will be the growth of mental health of the nation.