Thursday 14 November 2019

Mother seeks groom for her son in India's first gay personal advert

The advert was printed in the Mumbai tabloid Mid Day Credit: Mid Day
The advert was printed in the Mumbai tabloid Mid Day Credit: Mid Day

Dean Nelson

An Indian newspaper has made history after it decided to run advert by a mother hoping to find a husband for her son.

Like many Indian parents, when Padma Iyer wanted to find a spouse for her son she decided to place an advert in the matrimonial sections of a few national newspapers.

However many newspapers refused to publish the ad because it sought to find a partner for a same-sex marriage, a crime in India where homosexuality is illegal.

The son in question is Harish Iyer, a prominent Indian activist, and in all but one word, the advertisement is like thousands of others published in the still hugely popular matrimonial section of newspapers across India every week.

“Seeking 25-40, Well-Placed, Animal-Loving, Vegetarian GROOM for my SON (36, 5’11’’) who works with an NGO. Caste no bar (Though IYER preferred)”, the ad explained.

Many newspapers, including the Times of India and the Hindustan Times, which each have millions of readers, rejected the ad amid concerns that it would be in breach of the law but it was accepted by Sachin Kalbag, editor of the Mumbai tabloid Mid-Day which published it on Tuesday.

“As an organisation, we have always supported equal rights for everyone, regardless of religion, caste, sexual orientation, the colour of the skin, or whatever. Therefore, when the gay matrimony ad came to our office, we did not even think twice about publishing it”, he told the Telegraph.

‘In India, matrimonial ads are one of the best ways to find a life partner, given the prevalence of "arranged marriage". With this ad, Harrish Iyer's mother hopes to find a groom for her son.… We wish them both all the very best in their endeavour,” he added.

Harish Iyer and his mother Padma
Harish Iyer and his mother Padma

Mr Iyer said the rejection of his mother’s ad by several newspapers had turned his quest for a partner into an equal rights campaign but he was not necessarily looking for traditional ‘arranged marriage’ or a partner from the high Brahmin Iyer caste, as it stated.

The ad was “more like mom fixing dates for me” he said.

In 2009, India's High Court struck down a 148 year old colonial law banning homosexuality in 2009 but the ruling was overturned in 2013 by the Supreme Court.

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