A Hyderabad-based lecturer and a software engineer from Delhi have announced their decision to wed in Telangana. Supriyo Chakraborty and Abhay Dang’s upcoming wedding will be a first of its kind in the state.
The couple have made it clear that they “will not have a marriage but a wedding, which means that they will make things official between their friends and family but not before the law,” reports Firstpost. This speaks to the ongoing back-and-forth happening at the Delhi High Court, which is currently examining several petitions to broaden the scope of defining marriage in India.
At present, marriage in India is a civic contract and social institution that only caters to what the Central Government’s legal counsel Solicitor General Tushar Mehta described as “[occurring between a] biological man and a biological woman”.
This news has received an exhilarating response from several prominent public personalities, most notably the actress Samantha Ruth Prabhu, who congratulated the couple for their upcoming nuptials.
It is a welcome sign that the loved ones of queer people are respecting their children’s decision with respect to their personal life; after all a marriage is everyone’s affair in India. However, it is also important to ponder upon the possible imitation of the caste-based, patriarchal rituals of cis-het marriages by members of the queer community, especially those who are Savarna. The argument made in favour of same-sex marriages is that as long as cis-het people have the right to marry, then why not “us.” But that’s, to me, a vengeful and uninformed way of looking at rights.
Besides marriages between, as Mehta puts it, “a biological man and woman,” are there no other ways of companionship? What about Hijra gharanas? Do they not reflect the kind of imagination of families that queer people have so far found comfort in, barring a few unpleasant experiences? Will queer people continue to imagine ‘being in love’ as a man-in-love-with-a-man and a woman-in-love-with-a-woman clichés, which the cinema needs more than queer people do?
As queer folx, many of us consider various forms of relationships important to our identity as well as well-being. These include queer-platonic partnerships, various equations within the ‘chosen family’ setup, and other relational dynamics which may not be recognized traditionally within the familial structure or as a marriage. Moreover, with the recent spate of debate in India about taking legal action on intimate partner violence within a marriage and recognition of child marriages, there is a lot to consider about why we want to be counted within the ambit of the marital institution, and who risks to be left out of its protections.
Above all, will a legal sanctification from the State be the resolution of several issues facing the queer population — safety, housing, education, etc., which are more often a result of systemic discrimination and social alienation?