By Alex Temblador
In the United States, the acceptance of gay marriage and homosexuality is usually measured by polls and Supreme Court rulings. However, is same-sex marriage acceptance measured the same way all across the globe? Well, for India, a gay matrimonial ad in a newspaper might just be the kind of acceptance that shows a slow change in the heart and minds of the people of India. And just that occurred a few weeks ago, when Padma Iyer, mother of Harish Iyer, posted an ad in Mid-Day, an English language newspaper in India, seeking a husband for her son.
Harish Iyer is a LGBT rights activist and he is now at the center of India’s first “man-seeking-man marriage advertisement.” The ad itself was denied by three different publications including the Times of India before Mid-day accepted it. The ad reads:
“Seeking 25-40, Well-placed, Animal-Loving, Vegetarian GROOM for my SON (36, 5’11”) who works with an NGO, Caste No Bar (Though IYER Preferred).”
At least ten people have contacted Padma Iyer so far.
Padma Iyer posted the ad because, like many mothers, she worries that her son is “getting too old” and wants to see him happy and settled down with someone he loves. Harish Iyer isn’t necessarily looking for an arranged marriage but says the ad is mostly “like mom fixing dates for me.”
Since arranged marriages still occur in India, matrimonial ads are very common ways for families looking for suitable husbands and wives for their sons and daughters. Therefore, it is extremely significant that India has now had its first gay matrimonial ad. Especially so, because homosexuality is illegal in India since 2013 when their high court overturned a previous ruling that had struck down an old 148 year law that banned homosexuality from India’s colonial period.
Currently gay marriage is only legal in 20 countries around the world and legal in some jurisdictions in two more (Mexico and the United States). For all countries worldwide, the legality of gay marriage will come from court cases or laws passed by government officials. However, the acceptance of homosexuality can occur in a variety of ways and India’s might have just started thanks to mother, Padma Iyer. It will be interesting to see if this will affect the culture and if we can expect to see more same-sex matrimonial ads.
Perhaps India’s decriminalization of homosexuality fight will begin with Indian mothers who accept their gay sons and daughters and show it through the long cultural practice of matrimonial ads, one ad at a time.