Gay and living together in India

Gay and living together in India

By Aletta Andre Friday, April 1, 2011 - 15:56
“The neighbours might think we're just roommates. I haven’t told them anything – I’m not a very social person anyway.” You need a thick skin to live in India as a same-sex couple.

But its not impossible, says Nitin (40), an editor in Mumbai. He’s been living together with his partner Thomas (25), who works for a mobile phone company, for the past year and a half.

“We wouldn't lie about it, because we are confident enough and ready to face whatever problems might arise, but the neighbours have never asked. Neither did the landlord or the broker who got us the house. I'm not consciously hiding anything and feel quite open, so whether they've guessed, I don’t know. But I've never experienced negative responses.”

Ceremony He and Thomas have discussed the ‘next step’. Gay marriage is not legal in India, but there are ways. “It doesn’t really matter, because we’re already committed. But yes, we do want a commitment ceremony together with the people we love. This is always possible with a willing priest. I know many couples who have done this. Its just that you can’t formally register in India, so you don’t get the same benefits as married couples would.”

Children One of those benefits would be having a child together. Nitin says that he and Thomas haven't reached a point in which it's practically possible to take care of a child, but that they would want a family in the future. Even this would be possible in India, he says. “You can adopt a child as a single parent. So only one of us can be the official guardian, but of course we can share the responsibility of raising it.”

Confident Attitudes towards homosexuality have slightly altered in India in the past few years, Nitin feels. Especially since July 2009, when the Delhi High Court ruled that gay sex was no longer a crime. “Since the High Court verdict, there has been much more public discussion about it and many more people feel confident enough to come out. Whether this will lead to legalised gay marriage... I would not discount the possibility completely, but I don’t see it happening soon.”

Nitin’s family is supportive, but as family pressure to get married and have children can be big in India, they are worried about their son’s future.

“They ask me many questions. They wonder who will take care of me if me and my partner would break up. Without a marriage, it's hard for them to be as confident as I am that this won’t happen.”

Family Many Indian same-sex couples have decided to move abroad. But Nitin has never considered this option. “I think that sexual orientation can never be the only reason to leave one's country, there has to be more. The people that I know abroad are often moving away from their families. I always wanted to be honest with my family, so I’m here.”

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