Meet Maha’s queer rights activists driving ‘marriage equality’ petition
No more in the shadows, the LGBTQIA+ community is anxiously watching the ongoing hearings in the Supreme Court pertaining to their demand for �Marriage Equality and the much-anticipated ensuing rights.
Mumbai: No more in the shadows, the LGBTQIA+ community is anxiously watching the ongoing hearings in the Supreme Court pertaining to their demand for �Marriage Equality and the much-anticipated ensuing rights.
One of the petitioners, transgender Zainab Patel of Thane, said that the fight for �Marriage Equality’ is nothing less than historic and comparable to some of the biggest past revolutionary movements and resultant laws banning dowry, sati, untouchability, etc.
Prominent Equal Rights activist and another petitioner, Harish Iyer of Mumbai is cautiously optimistic, saying he wants a “more open reading of the Special Marriages Act, so as to include any two consenting adults, regardless of their sex or gender, to marry each other”.
“There are �Hum aapke hain kaun’ styled weddings happening already, many with the blessings of their families and friends. My fight is to get legal recognition for their weddings. This has greater ramifications. We would like all couples to be able to take a home loan together and enjoy all rights that are now only reserved for the majoritarian heterosexual population,” Iyer urged.
An indigenous (Adivasi) Transwoman, Christy Nag feels that the SC hearing “directly concerns our fundamental rights” and getting them is already long overdue.
Nag expressed dismay over the government’s stand and arguments on some aspects, saying “they don’t hold much ground”, and though horizontal reservations must be given, there is a lot of reluctance on the part of both the government and the Supreme Court.
Not mincing words, Patel said that they were compelled to move the SC as “no political party really took any concrete steps for the welfare of the LGBTQIA minorities”, and private bills introduced by MPs like Shashi Tharoor or Supriya Sule were not even allowed to be tabled.
“They feel we are not the �Voice of the Nation’. Then, what are we considered? ‘Second-Class citizens’ in our own country�? We just want our rights, we are not encroaching upon or snatching your rights, then why should anyone feel threatened? Why should my right to marry be an insult to society,” asked Patel.
“We want to live a fulfilling life of dignity, not merely �exist’� We want to take the crucial decisions of our lives ourselves, just like how everybody else does� For instance, if I am on my death bed with life-support systems, my partner should have �the right to decide’ like all other people,” Iyer demanded.
The activist rued how some families live in denial, don’t accept their wards’ sexuality or their partner, but after they (wards) die, “all rush to stake claim on their wealth”, and in such circumstances, the partner who contributed to building up the wealth, has no legal rights.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, many from LTBTQIA also died, and then their relatives materialised out of nowhere to grab the material wealth of the deceased� This is the saddest part�,” Iyer said.
Neeta Kene, chairperson of �Kinnar Asmita’, an NGO, who is a transgender and �guru’ of Patel, shot into the limelight in March 2023 when her team launched a �TransFormation Salon’ with help from the US Consulate and USAID, to provide career opportunities for the deprived community.
“The entire LGBTQIA community has high hopes for the SC verdict and it would be a major step for our future and well being� With �Marriage Equality’ history will be created soon in India and set the trends for the world�” said Kene.
Echoing the sentiments of the LGBTQIA tribe, Iyer emphatically concluded: “We want to be equal� Equal in all aspects. We need the entire bouquet of rights of succession, inheritance, adoption and everything else. We will get there. We will make the beginning with Equal Marriage rights.”