How often is marriage understood as an appropriation of acceptance of love by society? In a country like India, marriage places love on a pedestal of innate perfection, the only way that relationships can exist in society. With the decriminalization of homosexuality by the Supreme Court of India in 2018, the LGBTQ+ community had traversed a long way on the journey the community had embarked on years earlier. While the practical implication of this decriminalization act remains a contentious issue, the major question facing the community is about the way ahead. While for many, the path ahead is synonymous with the legalization of same-sex marriage, one has to stop and ponder over the semblance of truth in it.
In the grandiose steps for the future, same-sex marriages have unequivocal social and legal benefits and are therefore often considered objectively the next step. However, in the grand scheme of events, it is necessary to pause and think if marriage will serve the purpose for which the LGBTQ+ society has been fighting for so long, by forcing the community to mold into a heteronormative structure of a rigidly defined existence.
Currently, same-sex marriage is garnering greater impetus but it is actually a leap that might be detrimental to the community. As an institution marriage is inherently patriarchal and perpetuates hierarchies. For a community that has been striving to break these hierarchies, marriage alliances will undermine the very foundation of the community by forcing the members into predetermined roles and structures that is more an obligation to society than an honest appreciation of a relationship. Additionally, marriage in a highly gendered society is likely to place one section of the community over the other, causing factions in an already precarious situation.
Same-sex unions will disregard the position of other identities like Non-Binary, Trans and A-spec amongst many more. The act of legalizing same-sex marriage would remain tokenistic for these identities that would be left outside the purview of this step. A law in this favor is likely to be not inclusive and would be unequipped to address issues of assault and violence in the alliance of matrimony. There exist qualms about the supposed ‘freedom’ that would come with this seemingly obvious next step.
While many think of same-sex marriages as a balm that would soothe the long-standing struggles of the LGBTQ+ community, it is most likely to only help the upper-caste, privileged folks who come from a background with an abundance of resources. Queer people from marginalized sections will be unable to access the benefits of such a change, making the whole movement elitist and a way to subscribe to the standards of a capitalist and mercenary idea.
Queer relationships remain an issue with intricacies and nuances very few people are aware of. Such relationships can have problems that very few people are equipped to deal with and partners in queer relationships have no way to approach others for help as they are not out to others. Being in such a relationship comes with its own set of challenges which can get even more limiting when formalized in a marriage. Not having the option to reach out to anyone outside the relationship in such a scenario can be severely affected within the boundaries of a conventional marriage.
While love is an important part of the community, it is not the end of all its concerns and marriage can therefore not be the means to an absolute end to equality and well-being. The economic cost of stigma, the lived realities of the people from the community, the everyday harassment and at times the deliberate spurning of one’s identity are some imperative concerns that need to be confronted and addressed before marriage is seen as the ultimate step. Time and attention need to be given to other aspects of the community, issues that remind us that the community has surpassed ‘love is love’ as an approximation of its existence. Sustained steps can go a long way but the need is to follow through with a step that would benefit all. Same-sex marriages could function as a way of representation in a society like India but is not and will not be the end of the long journey that the LGBTQ+ community has decided to undertake.
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