Editor’s Note: Shaadi.com has announced its plan to begin matchmaking services for queer relationships, but it remains queerphobic and casteist in many ways. Read below for the full analysis of this business move and what it means for the community.
Ever since a part of the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) has been read down, decriminalising homosexuality, several businesses are finding it worthwhile to extend their offerings and services to LGBTQIA+ people. The latest being the Indian matrimonial website Shaadi.com, which will now be matchmaking for LGBTQIA+ people, too.
India is a deeply patriarchal and casteist society, which is why arranging ‘a suitable match’ is given a premium so that this hegemony continues. Though traditional matchmaking is weakening and digital spaces to find a partner are burgeoning, almost nothing has changed in terms of what/who is considered a ‘suitable match’ in terms of the parameters implemented.
The prevalent biases of the society haven’t been eradicated; they’ve just found a new form. It is this form that’s appealing to many and presented under a new guise: ‘choices’. You can choose who you want to partner with. And with this promise, Shaadi.com is entering the LGBTQIA+ matchmaking business.
Speaking to the Business Insider, the company’s founder and chief executive officer Anupam Mittal said, “We see ourselves as a platform for companionship and matchmaking. That could mean for different markets, different regions, different countries, different sexes [sic] … but we will significantly expand the kind of things that we do from a matchmaking context.” Mittal also made it clear that the website will not be into ‘casual dating’ but will promote ‘serious dating’, hinting at what most people call “settling down”, the publication reports.
As soon as the news was out, queer people began expressing their views on social media. While one Twitter user wrote, “And it begins Brahmin ladka looking for Brahmin ladka with nth number of zeros (sic) in salary”, the other replied “Waiting for lgbtshaadi.com”, giving the founder some ideas on his website’s domain name.
This is, however, not the first business foraying into queer matchmaking, a Twitter user reminds everyone. The user notes that a venture called “arrangedgaymarriage.com” by Urvi Shah was shut down after an exposé that revealed that the portal advertised fake profiles and was supported by fake testimonies. Here’s the link to an investigative documentary by VICE on YouTube.
On the other hand, several people are happy with this move, as they see it as respecting “people’s choices: whether it’s flashing torsos on random apps or getting married in the good old way.” However, it begs the question if there’s anything good that has come from the old ways. Because these ways have brought us here, when people are being murdered for being who they are and stripped to ‘prove’ their gender. These are the ways that have disregarded consent in marriage and refused to recognise marital rapes. If this is the sort of tradition that one is proud of, then perhaps Shaadi.com will have space for them.