Kolkata, Oct 21 (SocialNews.XYZ) Her fight to establish the rights of transgender individuals in West Bengal was not an easy one. Going beyond the traditional thought that Durga Puja celebration is limited to the so-called straight world in society, she started a unique community Puja organised exclusively by the transgender community, where Goddess Durga is worshipped as ‘Ardhanariswara’, a combination of the strengths of Maa Durga and Lord Shiva.
For Ranjita Sinha, the founder of Garima Griho (home of pride), a shelter-home for transgenders on the southern outskirts of Kolkata, the recent verdict of the five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court on the issue of same-sex marriage in the country has lots of positive sides for the community she hails from.
Speaking to IANS, Sinha highlights the positive sides of the verdict on this count.
IANS: For many same-sex couples the apex court’s verdict has brought heartbreak as it refused to legalise gay marriages in India and instead left the matter to Parliament to form legislation on this count. But you do not seem to be disappointed. What is there to cheer about?
Sinha: As you rightly pointed out, the verdict has brought grief to same-sex couples, like gays and lesbians. But, at the same time the apex court has given legal recognition to the rights of transgender persons to marry. What does that mean?
It means that a trans-woman and a cis-female can legally get married to any biological male or trans-man, similarly, a trans-man and a cis-man, can legally get married to any biological female or a trans-woman.
So, in a way, the apex court has nullified the Union government’s argument that a legal marriage is possible only between a “biological male” and “biological female.” Personally, I was expecting this positive development even before the verdict was pronounced in the backdrop of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.
IANS: But considering that the transgender community is part of the bigger ‘Queer’ family which includes gays, lesbians and bisexuals, don’t you feel that the apex court’s verdict would have been more fulfilling had it recognised the legal right of marriage and adoption for same-sex couples?
Sinha: Of course I do. But at the same time I find a silver-line in the Supreme Court’s verdict. I am sure that the social and legal movement demanding legal marriage, adoption and succession rights for same-sex couples will not end here.
In that case, the apex court’s recognition of the legal marriage rights of transgender people that nullifies the limited concept of marriage only between biological males or females can be used as a precedence in case there is a future possibility of the matter being heard in front of an even bigger Bench of the apex court. So the battle is not yet over and all hope is not lost.
IANS: Why do you think that marriage rights are so crucial for the people of the community?
Sinha: There are multiple reasons. First is the basic question of freedom of choice. If any couple wishes to be in a live-in relationship it is their freedom of choice. Similarly if any couple, be it of the opposite sex or same sex, wishes to get legally married, it is again their freedom of choice. So there should be that freedom of choice. Second, in certain cases like joint bank loans or nominee in case of insurance policies and investments, the legal stamp of marriage is extremely important.
IANS: My final question. When you say that the battle not over, what is your perception about the next step of the movement?
Sinha: As you said, the apex court has asked the Union government to form a panel to evaluate the possibilities of legal marriage rights for same-sex couples. Now we will have to keep a close watch on whom the government includes in that panel.
If we see that it is crowded by only those dyed-in-the-wool individuals who are against same-sex marriage without any scientific logic behind their argument, our movement should start right from there instead of waiting for the final outcome of the panel’s decision.
We will have to keep the pressure on so that the Union government also includes liberal people in the said panel. Remember, the reading down of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, that criminalised same-sex relations was not easily and quickly achieved. Similarly, we will have to keep fighting in case of this same-sex marriage issue and finally victory and glory will be ours. Satyamev Jayate.