Even after their wedding, Indian gay couple Supriyo Chakraborty and Abhay Dang hesitated to use the word “husband” to refer to each other – conscious that their country does not recognise same-sex marriage. “If anyone asks us if we’re married, I take two to three seconds pause to decide, shall I say yes or no?” Chakraborty told Openly during an interview in the couple’s home in the southern city of Hyderabad. “Because legally we are not.” The pair, who met on a dating app and have lived together for over a decade, are leading a petition to India’s Supreme Court to legalise marriage for same-sex, transgender and non-binary couples.
At least 19 other petitioners are supporting their case. If the court rules in their favour, India would become the world’s largest country and only the second place in Asia – after Taiwan – to grant equal marriage rights to LGBTQ+ couples.
A ruling is expected after the court’s summer vacation ends on July 3. India’s highest court decriminalised homosexuality in 2018 by scrapping a colonial-era ban on gay sex, but same-sex couples say the ban on gay marriage denies them rights linked to medical consent, pensions, adoption or even club memberships. “We are the most important people in each others’ lives, but we are still strangers in the eyes of the law,” said Chakraborty, 33, a professional wedding planner who carefully organised every detail of the couple’s own non-traditional ceremony.
India’s government has said in court filings that the petitions for equal marriage “merely reflect urban elitist views” and has argued that parliament, dominated by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, should decide the issue.