India may have abolished part of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, effectively making homosexuality legal in the country. But that apparently does not mean the Centre finds the idea acceptable. As the administration told the Delhi High Court on Thursday, decriminalising a particular behaviour was not the same as legitimising it.
In remarks that have since gone viral for all the wrong reasons, the Centre opposed petitions that sought recognition of same sex marriages, deeming biological sex to be of crucial import. Any interpretation other than treating a husband as a biological man and a wife as a biological woman will make all statutory provisions unworkable, it said.
Noting that the legal legal recognition of same sex unions was a matter to be decided by the legislature, the Centre contended that same-sex partners living together was not comparable with the "Indian family unit concept of a husband, wife and children". Not only marriage, the Centre also appeared to frown upon sexual relationships between same-sex individuals, for the same reason.
Needless to say, many in the country have been irked by the remarks. Many including national Award-winning film editor and writer Apurva Asrani took unbrage at the Centre's "archaic" idea of marriage. Fellow filmmaker Onir contended that same sex marriage was his "fundamental right", pointing out that even as the Indian government spoke against same sex relationships, the US had on Thursday passed the LGBTQ+ rights bill dubbed as 'Equality Act'.
For the unitiated, the Equality Act will prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity when it comes to various spheres of life - be it employment, housing, public education or federal funding.
Netizens as a whole are rather displeased by the situation in India. While many came forth with their own personal stories and attempted to convey the necessity for legalisation, others appeared to be furious over the Centre's perception of an "Indian family unit".
"What is ‘ in India’? Why did successive Indian governments have public health programmes targeting ‘ men who have sex with men’ (MSM) if such a group doesn’t exist and if they do, and they are legally entitled to vote etc, why not marriage?" questioned one user.
"What is the "Indian concept of family unit" ? Who defines it ? And where are they finding it? " wondered another.
"We're evolving, just backwards," lamented a third.