Should same-sex marriages be legalised?

I am the Love that Dare not Speak its Name”
-Two Loves, 1894, Lord Alfred Douglas

The quote is from a famous poem by Lord Douglas, often taken in the context of homosexuality. In the poem, the narrator comes across two men – both introduce themselves as Love. The first one corrects the other, saying he is not Love, but Shame, to which the other replies “I am the Love that Dare not Speak its Name”. The poem beautifully paints the marginalisation of homosexuality. It was written in the 19th century England, back when homosexuality was illegal in the country.

Since then, England has granted acceptance to same-sex partners. However, India with its Draconian laws, stands with feet jammed firmly in the outdated past. Homosexuality is still illegal in the country, and getting equal marriage rights for is, by and large, a distant dream. Despite being a part of the 21st century wagon, several Indians are still uncomfortable discussing homosexuality, many do not hesitate before declaring it unnatural.

Here are the top arguments given against homosexual marriage, and why they are baseless:

1) Homosexuality is not natural, and is a mental illness.

In July, 2018, the Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS) released a statement stating that homosexuality is not a mental disorder. The statement came at a time when our Apex Court was undergoing a hearing on the notorious Section 377. Founded in 1929, IPS is the largest organisation of Indian Psychiatrists.

In the same statement, besides declaring homosexuality as normal as heterosexuality or bisexuality, the IPS added that it “further supports decriminalization of homosexual behavior”. Notably, World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from its list of psychiatric diseases back in 1992. The conclusion is simple; homosexuality is as “natural” and “normal” of a sexual orientation as heterosexuality, and should be accepted as so.

2) Same-sex marriage cannot result in children, and is therefore void.

Marriage is a socio-legal institution that arose more out of a need for companionship than to procreate. If the above argument was logical, all the heterosexual couples who decide not to have children, or cannot due to other reasons, should also not be allowed to remain in matrimony. But the fact is, marriage cannot simply be boiled down to children, and discriminating against same-sex couples on that basis is unjust.

For a second, even if we believe a marriage without children is void, there are still plenty of arguments to support same-sex marriages. Surrogacy, adoption etc are all feasible ways of having children of your own.

Although there is no official data available, several NGOs calculated that there were roughly 50,000 orphan children in India in 2017. The Centre also expressed concerns at the falling adoption rates. Not to mention, orphanages are often in news for being ill-equipped. Several same-sex couples express a desire to raise a child together. If anything, a resulting matrimony would help provide a safe roof to orphaned children. Psychiatric studies have already proven that children of same-sex couples grow up to be as functional and mentally healthy as children of heterosexual parents.

As citizens of 21st century India, even if we push all the arguments aside for a minute, it doesn’t take a highly intellectual mind to support homosexuality. The world remains on the brink of unrest, thousands die in wars every day. In times when nations look out desperately for a chance at peace, how are two people in love a problem? Why would we rather accept violence against two innocent individuals rather than accepting them? Is this how far away from humanity we have managed to come?  If homosexuality is unnatural, then so is love.

Happy pride!

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