Last edited: December 05, 2004

Gay Wedding Puts Spotlight on Indian Laws

Indo-Asian News Service, January 7, 2003

By Frederick Noronha, Indo-Asian News Service

Panaji (IANS)—Days after it took place, a gay wedding here still has India talking, particularly about laws that do not recognise marriages between the same sex.

It involved one of India’s most prominent fashion designers Wendell Rodricks, who hails from Goa, and his French partner Jerome.

The occasion, which has drawn some attention from the international gay circuit, could embarrass the Indian government into doing a rethink on its laws that call such a union illegal, many say.

The event made it to the headlines, with various Mumbai-based newspapers and celebrity writers commenting on it., an international Web site, reported that the "first gay civil union ceremony in India has been held under the glare of media attention".

"Gay unions are not only illegal in India, but gay sex is punishable by imprisonment. The ceremony was conducted by a senior consular official from the French government."

The Web site said while Indian government officials refused to comment, "the public act and the publicity that accompanied it puts increased pressure on the government to strike down the anti-gay laws which date back to the days of the British empire".

In Goa itself, the event stayed outside media spotlight and newspaper readers in the small state of 1.35 million were clueless about the controversy.

Rodricks said he was not eager about "communicating to any press". But, he suggested, the news had been met with an "overwhelming positive reaction".

The caution is understandable. Goa, in spite of its image as a hedonistic fun centre, is actually a society based on fairly conservative mores.

The ceremony undertaken was not a "wedding" as most media commentators called it. It was a legal document, called PCAS (Pacte Civil de Solidarite) that is valid only in France.

The Web site said: "Gay civil unions are legal in France, and since Jerome is French, the union is considered legal. The couple signed an official French partnership register flown in for the occasion."

It noted that some of the biggest names in the Indian entertainment industry were on hand for the ceremony. The duo has spent some 20 years together, between Paris and Goa, other reports said.

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