Adoption - we should stop alienating the LGBTQ community
On September 6th, 2018, India finally saw the fruits of her struggle for the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Queer) community. The day when the supreme court decriminalized Section 377 of the Indian Penal code. This legalized consensual sexual conduct between adults of the same gender. Even though this was a historical verdict for the LGBTQ community, India has just reached the stepping stone of a long journey to unfurl "her pride." They are restricted from rights, many other citizens enjoy. From employment to Adoption, the problems they face, endless. Why is Adoption for LGBTQ couples so tricky?
Some of the criteria specified by the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) for adopting a child in India:
1. The prospective adoptive parents shall be physically, mentally, and emotionally stable, financially capable and shall not have any life-threatening medical condition.
2. Any prospective adoptive parents, irrespective of his marital status and whether or not he has a biological son or daughter, can adopt a child subject to the following, namely: -
3. the consent of both the spouses for the adoption shall be required in the case of a married couple.
4. Single females can adopt a child of any gender.
5. Single male shall not be eligible to adopt a girl child.
6. No child shall be given Adoption to a couple unless they have at least two years of a stable marital relationship.
7. The prospective age difference between the child and the parent or parent should not be less than twenty-five years.
According to the above criteria, it allows a single LGBTQ Indian to adopt a child. But a same-sex couple cannot adopt a child together as their marriage is not legally accepted. Under the Hindu marriage act 1955, it allows a trans woman to marry, but since this does not apply to the other communities, which form a sizable portion of the population; therefore, it is not a practical solution.
The new surrogacy bill has reduced the chances of LGBTQ couples having a child through surrogate mothers. This bill is restricted to married couples and prohibits the commercialization of surrogacy.
The Indian mindset is another reason making things even more dire for the LGBTQ community. An officer of one of the five oldest adoption communities of Karnataka stated an "inferior" couple such as an LGBTQ couple could not handle a child. "Gay culture is still not acceptable in India. A child should not go into such an inferior family. We prefer to place them in a wonderful healthy family. A family that is physically, mentally, and financially healthy," Malti, who runs an adoption agency in Bengaluru, tells The Logical Indian. She also believes that the child must know both mother and father's value, which an LGBTQ couple cannot give. Same-sex parenting is healthy and the best parenting. Same-sex couples take responsibilities based on strengths rather than social constructs. It offers children a clear understanding of love, familial commitment, and equitable relationships. A study found that daughters raised by gay fathers showed less anxiety and stress than daughters raised in heterosexual families. The child also displayed greater tolerance to sexual and gender diversity, and gender flexibility displayed by children (particularly the male child) was astonishing.
What shocked me is people viewing the LGBTQ community as an 'abnormality', when they are just like any other citizen in the country. Many stigmatized the community with statements like "that's not our culture." This statement is false. India is majorly composed of Hindus forming 80% of the population (as of 2019); its ancient scriptures define marriage as the union of 'two souls.' The same scriptures also specify that a soul has no gender. It is only the human bodies that possess a gender. It shows LGBTQ is not just any culture; it is our culture. India's orphans are increasing day by day. According to a new study, currently, India is home to 20 million orphans. The numbers will increase further by 2021. Most of the orphanages in the country provide very poor-quality services. The safety of the orphans is also not guaranteed with the increase in child abuse in the orphanages. Making the adoption policy inclusive of the LGBTQ community will give orphans a wonderful loving family and a safe home. They will grow up to hold values needed to fight society's major problems (toxic masculinity, oppression of women, etc.), regardless of their gender identity. Laws are crucial for protecting and granting rights to the LGBTQ community, but it is not enough to accelerate the fight against the LGBTQ community's discrimination.
We must change the mindset of the people. Do not stay silent. Spread the word, correct people around you. Explain to them, even if you feel oppressed by their actions. Be supportive of your peers, help them come out of their closets. Take to your blogs, social media accounts, podcasts. Speak yourself, you might not change the world, but you will be able to change a countable few.
You might even save someone.
- Anjana Badrinath