Marriage Isn’t Enough To Define Queer Lives Yet Is An Essential Right We Must Have!

A whole range of basic legal rights are available only inside the institution of marriage in this country, hence the right to marriage should be available to everyone.

For someone who does not believe in the institution of marriage or its capacity to liberate queer people, following the news has not proved to be any less of a horrifying experience for me than for other queer people who want marriage. It has been impossible to escape the news of whatever new baseless and stigmatising comment the Centre and their representative in the court decided to spew on any given day of the proceedings or to avoid the dehumanising comments made by those of the ruling party outside of court.

I have not been regularly following the right wing media as their attitude towards minorities is consistently scary, finding out about Sudhir Chaudhury’s comments have been enough to put me off them. Apparently ‘sensible people’ on the internet seem to feel that given all this opposition from the ruling dispensation, maybe the nation is not yet ready for marriage equality.

But what does it mean for the world’s largest democracy to not be ready for human rights?

Is marriage enough?

To clarify why I do not think marriage is the logical next step in the queer liberation movement, I do not think the openness and magnanimity of queer love can be confined within the limits of marriage. Not every queer person dreams of marriage. Not every queer person is a cis or trans binary man or a woman who wants to marry someone of the same gender. Criminalising conversion therapy or providing for horizontal reservation for trans people are two other prominent demands from the community that should have been higher on our list of demands.

Because what about nonbinary people whose gender identity the government does not even acknowledge? What about polyamorous people? Can the institution of marriage recognise a polycule?

This is the same institution that has historically been an exploitative institution for women; marital rape is still not a crime in India. Can this normative institution be inclusive of non normative identities without squeezing diverse identities into a heteronormative structure? What happens to our queerness when we start seeking assimilation?

But queer people deserve equal citizenship

But even though marriage is not the be all and end all of queer liberation, it should also be an option for anyone who wants it. It definitely is a basic human right. And in a nation that is so tragically obsessed with marriage, a whole range of rights are unfortunately made available only within the confines of it. They should be bestowed on individuals regardless of marital status or should have a communitarian alternative, but marriage takes primacy in our society. From inheritance to adoption, queer people are denied the full range of human rights by denying them marriage. People from the community are denied full citizenship.

And as the Supreme Court proceedings show, the government wants to continue to systematically disenfranchise LGBTQ+ people. They believe initiating amendments to marriage laws falls under the jurisdiction of the Parliament, where the RW is in majority. Two private members’ bills have been introduced in the Parliament which the centre has so far ignored and will likely not take up at all.

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Irrespective of majority views, equality is a fundamental right

Given I was not very invested in it from the beginning, and queer people from the length and breadth of the country have always been exposed to enough dehumanising homophobia and transphobia for none of it to seem new, I thought I’d breeze through all the news of the proceedings and laugh at all the ill-informed and prejudiced men.

SG Tushar Mehta even made a self-satisfied comment about not knowing enough as if that itself makes him morally superior than the rest of us instead of just ill-informed and uneducated about a case he is himself involved in.

I thought I would enjoy all of the memes coming out of this, all the jokes queer people on the internet is cracking, but the blatant queerphobia that came to the fore brings a new urgency to engage with all the awareness this is spreading and use this as an excuse to start conversations with relatives and neighbours.

The struggle for queer liberation, not limited to marriage equality, is a fight that the majority population would not fight for us and with us. This is our fight, and even if we are a small population, our fight is rooted in democratic values and human rights, the right to life and dignity. We cannot be and will not be denied that.

Image source: Ashwini Chaudhary on Unsplash 

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About the Author


A postgraduate student of Political Science at Presidency University, Kolkata. Describes herself as an intersectional feminist and an avid reader when she's not busy telling people about her cats. Adores walking around and exploring read more...

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