Whenever we talk about family, a very conventional picture of a mother, a father, and siblings gets painted in our minds. Because that is what we have been taught in schools, that is what most of us have grown up in and that is what a large chunk of society looks like. But families are composed of different entities as well. There could be just two partners, a father and a child, two same-sex parents and their children and so much more. But anything that is not conventional seems unusual to us, which is ridiculed against and opposed by the generic build-up of the society. In this article, we shall talk about the discrimination faced by same-sex parents with a special emphasis on adoption. We shall also discuss the case of same-sex parents concerning India later in the article.
The LGBTQI+ community has struggled for a long time to be recognized and to be open about their sexuality. It is still viewed as “different” to not be heterosexual and coming out as anything else has its challenges and struggles. The recognition of LGBTQI+ people in the eyes of the law was just the first step. It was followed by a fight to legalize same-sex relationships, and post that, marriages. But even in 2020, not all countries have legalized same-sex marriages, not even India.
Why are heterosexual parents seen as “normal”?
For times immemorial heterosexual parents have been the “norm” in society. It has an underlay of patriarchal value system wherein a man was needed to be the breadwinner of a family, and a woman was needed to birth a child, nurture it and also take care of household duties. But with the evolution of time, the idea of women getting an education and working became normal. They could fend for themselves now and did not need a man to earn for them. But life was seen incomplete without marriage and children. So, the two sexes started getting into a companionship for that. And that is where the convention of heterosexual parents being an essential part of a family originates from.
Why are same-sex parents discriminated against?
One of the main reasons why same-sex couples were not allowed to become parents or were discriminated against was because people thought that they are psychologically incapable of raising a child or their parenting would result in a different upbringing for the child. Many experts in the fields of child psychology and family and social work have concluded through research that there is no difference in the upbringing of a child by heterosexual and same-sex couples. Thus, ruling out any possibility of opposition based on the mental development of the child.
Another prevalent myth is that the child of the same-sex couple would also turn out to have similar sexuality. This is an ignorant assumption as a person reinstates their sexual orientation themselves, and having hetero or homosexual parents doesn’t contribute to that. People also fear that the child will be molested by same-sex parents. There is no evidence to prove that this statement is true. However, a study found that “a child’s risk of being molested by his or her relative’s heterosexual partner is over 100 times greater than by someone who might be identifiable as being homosexual.”
Same-sex parents and adoption in India
India recently got rid of Article 377 that criminalized the LGBTQI+ community. Its decriminalization was a ray of light for many same-sex couples who were looking forward to getting married and have kids. But even after 2 years of the removal of Article 377, same-sex marriages are still not legal as per the constitution.
Parents who wish to adopt in India have two legal possibilities: either under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, or irrespective of their religion, via the CARA, the primary facilitator of adoption. But the problem here is that a child could be adopted by married couples only. Since same-sex marriages are not legal in India, their chances of applying, let alone getting approval are negligible.
Besides adoption, same-sex couples are not allowed to have children through a surrogate also. A new surrogacy bill, introduced to prevent the commercialization of surrogacy prohibits bearing children of same-sex couples. It is also meant to prevent potential exploitation of the surrogate mother and the child, but it is problematic as it disqualifies homosexuals from the chances of becoming parents.
Even though homosexuality has been decriminalized, they haven’t been given the same basic rights that a heterosexual couple has, furthering the stigma that many Indians already have in their minds about the community.
Even if same-sex parents get to adopt a child, they still face discrimination and so do their children. According to a Reuters report, two-thirds of gay fathers experience stigma based on their status as homosexual dads, and One-third of gay fathers said their kids were stigmatized by other children.
Therefore, it’s a long road ahead. The mindset of society is a real problem here. Even if same-sex marriages and adoptions are legalized, there would still be a stigma around that, and it would not be viewed as normal. It is the people who need to become more accepting of the LGBTQI+ community and normalize them being a part of the institution of the family.
Taylor Francis Online
The Logical Indian
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An aspiring civil servant, a curious mind but also an avid binge watcher- Prerna is currently pursuing BA Prog in English and Political Science from Kirori Mal College. She belongs to Chandigarh but really enjoys the hustle of Delhi. Her favourite pastime is taking naps and recognises herself as a pro at it.