Meet Kavita Arora & Ankita Khanna, the Couple Fighting to Have Same-Sex Marriage Recognised

Love and Sex

Meet Kavita Arora & Ankita Khanna, the Couple Fighting to Have Same-Sex Marriage Recognised

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

India’s LGBTQ citizens could witness a great leap forward in their quest for equal rights due to two petitions filed in the Delhi High Court. Two same-sex couples have filed petitions seeking to have same-sex marriages recognised and granted the same rights as opposite-sex marriages under the Special Marriage Act and the Foreign Marriage Act.

The two women, Kavita Arora and Ankita Khanna, have sought the right to be married under the Special Marriage Act. The two men, Vaibhav Jain and Parag Vijay Mehta, were married in the United States in 2017, but were denied registration of their marriage under the Foreign Marriage Act at the Consulate General of India in New York this year. Both sets of petitioners have acquired the legal counsel of advocate Menaka Guruswamy, who also provided counsel in the petition that saw Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalised homosexuality, be overturned.

“Marriage is not just a relationship between two individuals — it brings two families together. But it is also a bundle of rights. We wish to have the protection of the bundle of rights that a marriage provides, so that we are not trying to get authorities to acknowledge our relationship for every entitlement or right that married couples would get automatically,” Arora said, speaking to The Print.

The inability to have their union solemnised in the eyes of the law has led to difficulties for the couple of Arora and Khanna. Though they have been living together for eight years, they’ve faced complications in areas opposite-sex couples take for granted, like acquiring address proof, opening a joint bank account, and appointing each other as nominee for their insurance. In their plea to the court, they wrote, “Without marriage, the petitioners are strangers in law.”

The High Court sought a response to the two petitions from the central government. Rajkumar Yadav, counsel for the government, said, “This is a peculiar situation in the history of Sanatan Dharma. In 5,000 years of this history, this kind of situation we have not faced.” The bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Asha Menon responded by asking the Centre to file their response in four weeks, and fixing the date for the next hearing on January 8, 2021.