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Now, time to give LGBTs marriage & parenting rights

Now, time to give LGBTs marriage & parenting rights
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India’s LGBT community on Thursday won its battle to decriminalise homosexuality. But the victory will gather real meaning only when they secure the right to marriage, inheritance, guardianship and adoption, say lawyers and activists.

The voices for these rights are getting louder and stronger. Mumbai-based transgender activist Madhuri Sarode Sharma took the brave step of marrying two years ago when her husband Jai Sharma’s parents accepted her as family. “We married as per Hindu traditions. But I am aware that we cannot register our marriage under the current law. The SC judgment gives hope for future change in laws. Without laws making way for marriage and adoption, there cannot be equality for the LGBT community,” she said.

No provision in existing laws allows couples or a single LGBT person to adopt. Most community members feel the right to adopt is imperative. Like everyone else, we too aspire for a family, they say. “I want the right to legally adopt a child,” said transgender activist Joyita Mondal.

Lawyers said the lack of legal provisions for same-sex marriage in civil law and personal laws means the shift will require either amendments to the Special Marriages Act or a new law for LGBTs. Changes in personal laws seem unlikely.

“We are in very early days, but I have no doubt once the SC judgment starts operating on the ground, authorities such as registrars and courts won’t be able to deny the right to marry or adopt,” said equality lawyer Naina Kapoor. Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani said the lead in this matter can come from the Centre.



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