An Indian mom has placed a matrimonial ad for her gay son in an Indian newspaper in what is the first such advert published in a country where homosexuality remains illegal.
The Mid-Day newspaper – the largest selling tabloid in Mumbai – published Padma Iyer’s advert after three leading broadsheets refused.
The ad, published in Tuesday’s edition of the newspaper, calls for a man aged between 25 and 40, who is “Well Placed, Animal Loving and Vegetarian” for Mrs Iyer’s 36-year-old, 5’ 11” son Harish.
Whilst it is remarkable in what is still a largely conservative country, Mrs Iyer hadn’t discarded all of her cultural constraints – saying that she preferred an “Iyer” whilst insisting that caste is no barrier.
Iyer’s are south Indian Brahmin, the “highest” in the much-derided caste system.
Harish says like most Indian mothers, his was “pretty concerned” about finding him a partner and planning a wedding.
“She thinks I need to settle down as I am growing old,” he said, adding he has so far received six responses to the advert.
“Parents are equally concerned about the future of their children, whether they are gay or not.”
Padma Iyer and Harish Iyer. And Cat.
However, he said the English language Times of India and DNA newspapers declined to publish the advert for legal reasons, while the Hindustan Times did not give a reason, after his mother approached all three dailies last week.
“Editorially they show support for LGBT rights but when it comes to actually walking the talk, they hide behind the law,” Iyer told AFP news agency.
The Supreme Court restored a colonial-era ban on homosexuality in 2013, a decision that stunned rights campaigners and the gay and lesbian community.
Although prosecutions for same-sex activity have been rare, the gay community says it faces significant discrimination as well as harassment from the police.
The Hindustan Times declined to comment on the advert, while a DNA spokesman could not be contacted for comment.
A Times of India senior employee in the classifieds section denied refusing the advert, saying the paper’s legal team advised changing the word groom to “companion” to comply with the law.
Mid-Day editor Sachin Kalbag said his paper had no problem with the advert.
“We believe that human rights should be applicable to all, regardless of religion, caste, colour, sexual orientation, etc,” Kalbag said in a statement.