Can a gay marriage bureau help the Indian LGBT community find love?

Published: March 30, 2016
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While India has still not legalised gay marriage, the concept has worked well in several other countries. PHOTO: YOUTUBE

The thing about free markets is that where there is a need, a product or service to fulfil that need always emerges. It is this fundamental tenet of human nature that has been responsible for all growth and progress.

India recently got its ‘first’ gay marriage bureau, courtesy an entrepreneur who saw an opportunity and decided to pursue it. While such an endeavour may not be the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of enterprise or business prospects, it actually makes complete sense.

The quest for a life partner is amongst the most important and time-consuming undertakings for single adults. Enablers like dating websites, newspaper classifieds, friends and family, and marriage bureaus help people find the right match, based on their interests and preferences.

Unlike in the West, the South Asian context for matchmaking usually begins and ends with the objective of marriage. Meeting someone and dating for a while before making a longer-term decision is still relatively unusual in this part of the world.

A traditional marriage bureau therefore does not raise any eyebrows and is in fact seen as fulfilling a crucial social responsibility. If the neighbourhood aunty is unable to find a suitable match for a youngster, the marriage bureau with its professional network will surely succeed in homing in on the right partner.

The acceptance of homosexuality has steadily risen around the world in the last few decades. In most of the developed countries, gays have acquired many of the rights that were traditionally reserved only for heterosexual couples, most significant of which is marriage.

Modern India has still not completely come to terms with the idea of homosexuality. Section 377 of the Indian penal code, which criminalises homosexual acts, symbolises the repression of the LGBT community. While modern India struggles with this, India’s ancient civilisation has been far less critical of non-traditional sexual orientation.

Before the advent of puritanical Islamic and Victorian influences, Indian society was far more inclusive and liberal. It is that tolerance and openness that needs to be revived. The fact that there is an active movement underway, advocating the abolition of Article 377 is an important indicator of the direction society is headed in. The recent statement by RSS leader Dattatreya Hosabale, saying that homosexuality is not a crime, also points to an attempt by conservative leaders to align with the progressive voice in society, albeit grudgingly.

Gays are an integral part of society and have as much of a right to be happy and find love. It is important for society to move beyond established paradigms of love and marriage and understand that it is perfectly natural for some people to be attracted to the same gender. What two consenting adults do in their homes or how they choose to define their relationship is nobody else’s business.

While India has still not legalised gay marriage, the concept has worked well in several other countries. The experiences from Europe and some US states provide ample evidence that it is entirely possible to have loving, nurturing same sex relationships.

The recently set up gay marriage bureau in India is therefore significant. It taps the latent demand that exists within the gay and lesbian community. Since they do not have the same access to the social networks of matchmaking aunties, they can rely upon the marriage bureau to help find their life partners.

Given the restrictive laws in the country, the marriage bureau would primarily match Indian members with those based in other parts of the world and not within India. It would almost be like traditional arranged marriages of NRI grooms and brides with their India based matches, albeit with a gay twist.

Of course it is not a social service and comes with a hefty cost. The membership fee is $5,000 is not cheap by any means, but perhaps for many, it would be a small price to pay if it ultimately helps them find love, companionship, and a fast track to an immigrant visa to a developed country as a spouse.

Trust an astute entrepreneur to gauge an opportunity and provide a solution to a need. This marriage bureau makes good business sense and at the same time makes life better for many. All in all, it makes a strong case for the benefits that accrue from both, a liberal society and an open, unrestrictive economy.

Do you think the Indian gay marriage bureau will be allowed to function without hindrances?

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Amit Nangia

Amit Nangia

The author is a learning and development professional with a background in finance and human resources that informs his commentaries on geopolitical and socioeconomic trends. He tweets as @amitnangia06 (twitter.com/amitnangia06)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Keyboard Soldier

    Just the discussion around gay rights in india means that it has come a long way.Recommend

  • Pro Truth

    Whats this article doing in Pakistan newspaper?Recommend

  • Indian Guy

    *”Before the advent of puritanical Islamic and Victorian influences, Indian society was far more inclusive and liberal.”*

    Hmmmm do you see where the problem lies?Recommend

  • All the luck to this marriage bureau, although the business model may be doomed (“$5,000 is not a small price to pay” for anybody). The writer seems entirely clueless though about homophobia in India. Blaming it on “puritanical Islamic and Victorian” tenets is both Islamophobic and racist. I don’t think the hardcore Hindus frothing at the mouth about gay Indians are influenced by Muslims. In fact, Muslims probably can claim to have been the most relaxed about same sex relations through medieval times and before colonial laws like Section 377 were imposed.Recommend

  • Hassan

    And u think this unnatural relation is something u should proud of, see the problem is within the Indian society, they r suffering from identity crises, watch ur early movies like Qayamat se Qayamat tak and others, proper dresses and decent scenes were once the pride of Indian cinema, even mein ne pyar kiya had some intimate scene but were not vulgar, don’t tell me Hindus were liberal to the extent they r now, u were never influnced by any other religion u too had values back then but now u r bunch of ”wanna be’s”Recommend

  • Acorn Guts

    Sure, I always believe everyone who presents opinions as facts.Recommend

  • Acorn Guts

    I appreciate the effort but found this an incredibly difficult read. Author’s writing style has done my head in.Recommend

  • Acorn Guts

    I just can’t believe they have the nerve to bring up ‘inclusivity’ and ‘tolerance’ in Indian culture when they are still stuck to they world’s oldest forms of surviving social stratification i.e. the caste system.Recommend

  • Tommy Gunn

    Just because Pakistanis & muslims in general are backward, living in the stone age & refuse to evolve as human beings, it does not mean that others should do the same. Times are changing & the world is moving on with or without you.Recommend

  • Indian Guy

    Hindus were a lot more liberal and open before the advent of Islam. Since then everything has gone downhill. Don’t tell me about our movies. Hindus wrote Kama Sutra thousands of years before Islam was even born. We have temples in India depicting Kamasutra poses on its walls. Google Khajuraho temple. You cannot even imagine that in your wildest dreams. We’ve had women dominated societies in ancient times. Rani Lakshmibai ruled the province of Jhansi. And since you’re so interested in pointing out our movies then let me tell you that the first lip to lip kissing scene in Indian movies took place between Devika Rani and Himanshu Rai in a movie which released way back in 1933 called Karma. Get your info first before talking nonsense.Recommend

  • gp65

    Caste system defined what roles and responsibility were assigned to various professions such as teachers, soldiers, traders and labourers. When it was established there was nothing that said caste was fixed at birth and unchangeable. There was nothing wrong with it at the time.
    Yes it morphed into a terrible form where caste was frozen at birth and restricted upward mobility. That was terrible and wrong.
    In present day India, discriminating against someone because they were born in a supposedly lower caste is illegal. In fact there are many affirmative actions including reservation in government jobs to people who suffered in the past due to their caste. People are in fact fighting to get their caste notified as backward – the most recent Jat agitation is an example. This would not be the case if belonging to a backward class was seen as a disadvantage.Recommend

  • Acorn Guts

    Why do you need caste when profession adequately defines and protects all roles and responsibilities? It’s just unnecessary layer of social segregation that undermined inclusivity from Indian culture albeit with good intentions if you say.

    I’m not arguing caste system, every culture has it’s fair share of nasty I’m just saying that the author has no right to put the blame squarely on advent of muslims when intolerance has really evolved out of existing stigma within the society itself, maybe helped by the foreigners but they are not the only to be blamed.Recommend