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Sunday, April 2, 2023

Let the institution of marriage thrive

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Like the recent fear in some countries of immigrants diluting national integrity, GoI‘s apprehension that ‘outsiders’ will damage the institution of marriage is irrational. It’s also unjust. ‘Outsiders’ in this case being couples of the same sex wishing to tie the knot and benefit from the legal rights that marriage brings. Wider social acceptance can only follow. GoI’s argument that same-sex marriage is not compatible with the concept of an ‘Indian family unit’ is also odd, especially coming from an administration that insists it’s not status-quoist. If an institution, due to past practice (read: tradition), does not allow the constitutional right for every citizen to be treated equally, then it should be amended.With consensual homosexual activities decriminalised five years ago, legal recognition for gay marriage is the most ‘natural’ next step. The statutory trepidation towards same-sex marriage is doubly unwarranted as the Indian state has in the past stepped outside ‘accepted norms’, legally recognising inter-caste and inter-faith marriages and making the instant triple talaq illegal. Social acceptability takes time and awareness. But our legislators must ensure laws remain ahead of social norms.

As for concerns about individuals abusing the law that legtimises same-sex marriage, the same laws that apply to heterosexuals should clearly apply. Couples are individuals first, gender- or sexuality-based entities later. To obstruct marriage between homosexuals would be to obstruct the expansion of the traditional institution of marriage itself. At a time when marriages are seen as being less binding than ever before, if a new ‘constituency’ provides it with a buttress, we should bless all such unions, not get dogmatic about them.

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