Gay couple marry in traditional Indian ceremony
A gay couple in India has married, despite the country not recognising same-sex marriage.
The couple, Hrishi Mohankumar Sathawane, and his partner, Vinh, married in Maharastra’s Yavatmal, close to Mumbai.
Writing on Facebook, Hrishi says he met Vinh on a gay dating website in October 2016, and that they met for dinner shortly after.
The couple eventually went on a road trip to Australia and went to Vinh’s cousin’s wedding in Sydney.
Hrishi says he was welcomed with open arms by Vinh’s family, and he shortly afterwards he proposed in April 2017.
The couple planned a commitment ceremony for December, and Hrishi’s parents and sister held a reception in June.
The Mumbai Mirror reports that Hrishi’s parents had insisted that the couple should not get married in his hometown, but after he insisted, the parents came around tot he idea.
The couple’s wedding day started with a private Haldi function at Hrishi’s home.
Later in the day the reception began with group pictures during which the couple post maintained a number of = Hindu wedding rituals, ab
Going on, Hrishi says: “Growing up, I knew I was different, but it was difficult to make sense of the feeling as I did not know anyone else who felt the same way. I chose to focus on studying and fortunately did well in school. A psychology class at IIT briefly mentioned homosexuality, but I did not think it was me. Eventually, when I went to a gay support group at Iowa State University and talked to other open and confident gay men, I understood I am also gay. I came out to my parents immediately in late 1997.
“Over the next few years, they went through a range of emotions from denial, guilt, frustration to sadness, crying and what not. They believed that if I just marry a woman it would all be fine. However, I refused to ruin the life of another woman. My sister played a crucial role in helping our parents understand the situation. After that initial strong opposition, my parents gradually came around and started accepting me”.
Hrishi’s parents previously marched with him at San Francisco back in 2007, and they were the first Indian parents to march in a Prie parade.
The couple is now planning a legal ceremony in Stockton, California.
They are also looking forward to adopting some children together.
India’s Supreme Court is set to revisit a colonial-era law that criminalises homosexuality.
Section 377 of the Indian penal Code, which outlaws sex between men, will be re-examined by the court to determine its validity.
The court announced on Monday that the ruling, which was modelled on 16th-century British laws, will be examined before October 2018.
The colonial-era law bans “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal”.
Those convicted under Section 377 can face a life imprisonment.
The decision to examine the law once again comes as the court found that less than 200 people had been convicted for homosexual acts in 2013.
Activists say that the law is more commonly used for convicting those who carried out sexual offences against children with approximately 1,347 cases taking place in 2015.
They also say that the section is being used to blackmail and intimidate LGBTQ Indians as well as to prevent healthcare access for HIV/AIDS.
The court said: “A section of people or individuals who exercise their choice should never remain in a state of fear.
“Choice can’t be allowed to cross boundaries of law but confines of law can’t trample or curtail the inherent right embedded in an individual under article 21 of constitution.”
The ban on homosexual sex was eradicated in 2009 in Delhi high court.
However, it was reinstated four years later by the supreme court.
The decision to reinforce the law was met with international criticism, and India faced condemnation from major establishments including the United Nations.
The retraction was considered largely controversial because of article 21, which guaranteed the right to privacy.
The decision to revisit the ruling is believed by experts to be a positive thing.
Anand Grover, a senior lawyer in the country, said that the challenge had “no choice but to succeed”.
The ruling, which was on an unrelated privacy case, appeared to affirm that LGBT people deserve basic right to live, ahead of a wider challenge to Section 377.
The nine-judge court affirmed: “Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy.
“Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual.”
Equality demands that the sexual orientation of each individual in society must be protected on an even platform.
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“The right to privacy and the protection of sexual orientation lie at the core of the fundamental rights guaranteed by [the Constituion].”
The decision also challenged the ruling that reinstated Section 377, which had initially said that the law was not discriminatory because it only impacted a “minuscule fraction of the country’s population”.
The Supreme Court ruled: “That ‘a minuscule fraction of the country’s population constitutes lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgenders’ is not a sustainable basis to deny the right to privacy.
“The purpose of elevating certain rights to the stature of guaranteed fundamental rights is to insulate their exercise from the disdain of majorities, whether legislative or popular.
“The guarantee of constitutional rights does not depend upon their exercise being favourably regarded by majoritarian opinion. The test of popular acceptance does not furnish a valid basis to disregard rights which are conferred with the sanctity of constitutional protection.
“Discrete and insular minorities face grave dangers of discrimination for the simple reason that their views, beliefs or way of life does not accord with the ‘mainstream’.
“Yet in a democratic Constitution founded on the rule of law, their rights are as sacred as those conferred on other citizens to protect their freedoms and liberties.”