By Meghna Mehra
One may ask, what is marriage of convenience? It is a concept of marriage where two people pretend to be married while having no marital relationship in reality. The concept is old and many reasons were behind those who opt for it. In India, the most common reason behind marriage of convenience is the pressure to get married.
Many queer individuals opt for marriage of convenience in India. These are the individuals who stay closeted or are under tremendous family pressure to stay closeted and show themselves as heterosexual in the social setting.
It is a very common phenomenon. Many members of the LGBTQIA+ Community try to find partners from the community to avoid ruining the lives of heterosexuals who might be married off to them by their families. One can find posts on social media queer groups asking for the marriage of convenience. Major reasons for opting for this type of marriage instead of coming out are –
- Lack of Acceptance- Even after the section 377 judgment, lack of acceptance prevails in the Indian Society. Many individuals crave acceptance to survive even now and the existing stigma against LGBTQIA+ individuals doesn’t let it happen.
- Fear of abandonment- In some cases, community members are abandoned by the family, clan, village, etc. This fear of abandonment is one of the reasons for hiding by having a heterosexual marriage.
- Fear of abuse by family- Many families abuse their children if they come out as queer. From beatings to corrective rapes, many families still continue to harass their children over their orientation
- Honor Killings- Honor Killings are an alarming issue in India. People get murdered for marrying outside their castes, similarly many people fear getting killed for marrying outside the heterosexual norms of the society.
- The pressure to get married after coming out- Many individuals face denial, harassment, and violence after coming out. They are forced to get married in a heterosexual setting leading to more chaos in their lives. This leads to finding MOC as a solution.
However, there are no winners in such marriages, the people involved in it often end up living their whole life as a lie. If truth comes out, they suffer more. Marriage of convenience is an outcome of patriarchal norms which demands that everyone should have a heterosexual marriage. Ignoring that there are other forms of relationships too is harmful for the LGBTQIA+ Community.
A lot of community members are also forced into heterosexual marriages by their families which is toxic and downright abusive. It is common in both rural and urban settings and creates wider issues in the lives of the people. One of the reasons for having heterosexuality as a social norm is caste and class society. Everyone wants to main their caste purity, their economic resources by having an heir. This is also the reason behind wider caste-based violence in the cases of intercaste marriages. When a same-sex couple gets married, they break many social norms, the act of love itself becomes revolutionary if they do away with the existing status-quo.
Marriage of convenience is a tip of an iceberg of existing wider problems that the community faces and is facing since years.