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Change in plans: Gay couples set sight on foreign shores to get hitched

LGBT community has virtually been catapulted back to the pre-2009 Delhi High Court judgment era.

When Jerry Johnson (31),a corporate communications executive,got engaged to his clinical psychologist partner Deepak Kashyap (27) at a small ceremony last year,he thought it would be just a matter of time before he could take the proverbial walk down the aisle with his partner of nearly five years. However,with the Supreme Court upholding the validity of section 377 that criminalises gay sex,Johnson wants a wedding somewhere abroad,where gay marriage is legal.

While decriminalising homosexuality would have been the first milestone that could have been used as a springboard for further rights-based demands,including the call for legalising gay marriage,allowing adoption by same sex couples,amending inheritance laws,the apex court judgment has further protracted the struggle. The lesbian,gay,bisexual,and transgender (LGBT) community has virtually been catapulted back to the pre-2009 Delhi High Court judgment era.

Although his marriage will be bereft of legality,Johnson will get hitched for the sake of the psycho-social stability it entails. “We might tie the knot in the UK or even in Nepal,which is more tolerant of same sex union than India,” he said. Netherlands was the first country to recognise same-sex unions 12 years ago and was followed by countries such as Belgium,Spain,Canada,some states in the US and Mexico. The latest addition to the list is England and Wales.

After a futile wait for a positive judgment,Nitin Karani (43) trustee of Pune-based LGBT advocacy group Samapathik trust now plans to marry his partner as soon as he gets the latter’s mother’s consent. “We will find a priest and have a simple ceremony. However in the absence of legal recognition for our alliance,we won’t be able to do things such as nominate each other for insurance or take a home loan together,” said Karani.

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Others such as filmmaker Sridhar Rangayan (51),festival director of KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film festival,dismiss a marriage that is not accorded legal status in one’s own country as a mere emulation of a heteronormative wedding without the resultant financial benefits. Rangayan has been living with his partner for 20 years. “Several Indian homosexual couples who had shifted abroad were planning to return post the SC judgment,”said Rangayan. He cited the instance of a homosexual couple who went to Canada to get married and adopt a child but came back to India buoyed by the 2009 HC judgment. “Now,we are back to square one. We will have to re-strategise on graver issues such as HIV programmes,harassment by police or at the workplace,” said Rangayan.

A recent study by Humsafar Trust showed that over 50 per cent gay men in Mumbai and over 80 per cent in smaller towns end up marrying women succumbing to societal pressure. “This is unfair to the LGBT community and to the women. They may unwittingly contract HIV from their partners,” said Pallav Patankar,director of the HIV programme at Humsafar Trust.

shalini.nair@expressindia.com

First published on: 16-12-2013 at 01:35 IST
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