Indian queers share their thoughts on Supreme Court's verdict on same-sex marriage

Smrithi Mohan
New Update
same-sex marriage

Ryyan Monkey, Deep and Ankur share their thoughts on the Supreme Court's verdict denying equal rights to queer couples and recognizing it under the Special Marriage Act.

The Supreme Court of India held a hearing on October 17 for the petition filed to recognize same-sex marriage and for it to be given the same rights as heterosexual marriages. The petition filed called for queer couples to enjoy the status of spouse in finance and insurance issues; medical, inheritance, and succession decisions, and even in adoption and surrogacy matters. However, in a 3:2 verdict, the court disregarded the same, refusing equal marriage rights for queer couples. 

The verdict on marriage equality was what everyone was eagerly looking for. With lots of hope, queer folks across India were anticipating a positive verdict, especially after the Chief Justice of India mentioned all the atrocities faced by the community and asked the government to follow a set of guidelines to protect from them. While it is something that people from the community will still have to fight for, we asked queer folks from the community their thoughts on the verdict.

Rayyan Monkey is a transwoman and an activist who is working to let the voices of the community feel heard while highlighting and helping society with everything they should know about the community. Meanwhile Ankur and Deep are a couple and motivational speakers who have been using their platform to spread love and awareness while openly living the life they always wanted. Since the SC verdict came out, every member of the community has had their own opinion on it. To know how the verdict will impact their own life and the future, we decided to talk to them.

Also Read - The Supreme Court's judgment on marriage equality: Here's what you need to know!

Here’s what they had to share!

Firstly, can you highlight the need for marriage equality and why the hearing was important for the community?

Rayyan was not so keen on getting married, but it broke their heart all the same when same-sex marriages were seen as not being constitutionally viable. "If we had got the civil unions it would have still been significant progress, but even that did not happen! We are a community that very often has to leave and live independent lives from that of our birth families. As long as we don't have marriage equality rights, this same family that won't accept us for who we are, stands to be our only legally recognized relatives/ guardians." From inheritance to medical assistance, this negatively impacts how the community can safeguard themselves and provide for their chosen families. Ankur and Deep believe that the need for marriage equality was paramount, as it’s not just about vows but also about validating love and acceptance. 

What were the key aspects that you were expecting from the hearing?

Rayyan was not expecting marriage equality based on how the hearings went. "But I was hoping against all hope that we got a civil union for same-sex couples!” On the other hand, expectations from the hearing were high for Ankur and Deep, with hopes for progress in legalizing same-sex marriage. "However, the verdict left people divided. Some praised the Chief Justice of India (CJI) for the positive aspects, while others had reservations.”

The verdict didn’t make amendments to the marriage equality bill, but it also conflicted people, with many praising CJI and others arguing otherwise. What was your takeaway from it all?

Rayyan believes that even the Supreme Court, almost like all other social and legal structures, is gravely, morbidly polarized. "In the total of things, what the CJI said will do good for the community. In that, it was a powerful voice that said these sensitive things. But legally speaking all of those things were to be recognized already. So for me, the only takeaway was that the Supreme Court too is so polarized that it is not able to step in and take the kind and humane route." Ankur and Deep believe that the impact on the LGBTQIA+ community is profound. "It’s about granting them the recognition and respect they deserve, impacting their overall well-being." It also affects familial acceptance; legalizing marriage equality could make it easier for parents to embrace their child’s gender and sexuality. "For allies and supporters, the battle continues. Beyond celebrating progress, we must push for comprehensive LGBTQIA+ rights and marriage equality. Every voice counts in advocating for change.”

How does this decision impact the community? 

According to Rayyan, the decision would give the community a direction to where they want to go ahead with it. The roadmap for all activists was always been first to get queer relations and identities decriminalized and constitutionally recognized. It was to ensure that humans are treated as equal citizens and can get equal access to the rights provided by the Constitution. "Marriage equality and the right to adoption are the only next steps in this process. Without both, we are relegated to living half-lives.” Ankur and Deep said, “Amidst the setbacks, the guidelines laid down by the CJI, while not everything, represent a step forward. They provide a degree of protection for queer individuals.”

Does the decision affect familial acceptance for queer folks? Would it have been easier for them to accept their child’s gender and sexuality if the Supreme Court had legalized marriage equality?

Rayyan is of the opinion that a positive verdict on same-sex marriage with have had an impact on familial acceptance. As per them the decision of the Supreme Court has set the progress made by the community some years back. "In all cultures, legal recognition goes a long way toward social acceptance. In India, this is doubly true. We are a culture that takes marriages and weddings very seriously." Rayyan believe that legally recognizing same-sex weddings would allow queer folks to tell their parents that it's legally recognized and officiated. Therefore we get legal protection as well. Now you have got to see it for what it is ie. it's not some Western influence."  Ankur and Deep have been together for 14 years facing challenges in asserting their partnership legally and as people from the modern generation, they think that the fight is far from over. "We don’t seek marriage but equality. We desire basic rights like medical insurance and the opportunity to buy a house together.”

How can allies and supportive individuals help further the cause of LGBTQIA+ rights and marriage equality?

Rayyan wants to see a whole lot of queer weddings in mainstream media. It's all about normalizing queer folks and their love for each other. Meanwhile Ankur and Deep believe that the fight isn’t just for them but for society. "Many LGBTQIA+ individuals have been forced into conventional marriages, causing unhappiness and turmoil. We need to save lives by advocating for change.”

Amongst all the negatives, CJI laid down guidelines that will help protect queer folks in the hearing. While this isn’t enough, it’s still a step forward. What are your thoughts on it?

Rayyan found the guidelines, that had been stated before or protected by the Trans Act, read by the highest judicial power in our land, powerful. She found the statement 'stating it not to be an urban elite thing' compelling. "The detailed guidelines laid down by the CJI in how folks should deal with us and the directions to the police and indirectly to the private sector regarding providing services will also change things up, I believe.” However, Ankur and Deep will always continue to fight for the rights that they, and so many others, rightfully deserve.

What do you think about this hearing after listening to their perspectives? Tell us in the comments below!

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