Transgender and sexual minorities rights activist from Bengaluru, Akkai Padmashali, has written an open letter to BJP parliamentarian Sushil Kumar Modi condemning him for his remarks in the Rajya Sabha regarding same-sex marriage earlier this week.
Akkai urged the MP to consider tendering an apology to the LGBTQI community for the hurt that he had caused through his remarks.
The MP had said that same-sex marriages should not be legalised in the country and the issue cannot be decided by courts where two judges can sit and take a decision on a social issue.
Modi also said that there should rather be a debate in Parliament and society as attempts were being made by left-liberal activists to legalise same-sex marriages by aping the West.
The renowned Bengaluru-based transgender activist, in her open letter, said that she was deeply disturbed to hear Sushil Kumar Modi’s speech in the Rajya Sabha warning against legal recognition for same sex marriage.
“As a transgender person who is a part of the ‘Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Intersex Jogappa Marladi++ movement, I believe that the right to marry should be applicable to all persons and not restricted to Men and Women,” Akkai stated.
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‘Gender is a spectrum’
“You oppose ‘same sex marriage’ as, in your opinion, marriage had to be seen as ‘pure’ and it means ‘biological man and biological female’. The point the LGBTQI movement has been making is that gender is a spectrum,” Akkai wrote.
Citing her own personal example, she said that she was born a male though she always knew that her identity was that of a woman.
With the increase in awareness and her own confidence and strength, she has now transitioned to becoming a woman.
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“However, in your (Sushil Kumar Modi’s) definition, I am not a ‘biological woman’ and hence not entitled to get married. This denial of marriage to those of us who are not biologically women is a denial of the very principle of equality and the right to lead dignified lives,” Akkai wrote.
Akkai also mentioned that, apart from her, there are many who are not biologically female or not biologically male. There are yet others who fall in the rainbow spectrum of gender. Surely, all them, not just biological men and women, have a right to participate in the institution of marriage.
Not giving them the right violates the constitutional mandate of equality, dignity and inclusiveness, Akkai added.
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Not popular, but constitutional morality
Akkai said that she was surprised to hear Modi advising the court not to give “a ruling that goes against the nation’s cultural ethos, culture, and thoughts”.
“To me, the courts do not decide based on cultural ethos, but rather on the basis of the Constitution. The morality the judges are duty bound to apply is not popular morality, but constitutional morality,” she stated.
Akkai also recalled BR Ambedkar’s words: “Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment. It has to be cultivated. We must realise that our people have yet to learn it. Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic.”
Akkai said Modi was wrong to assume that this battle was by the “left/liberal people” who are attempting to accord legal recognition to same-sex marriage.
“I would like to remind you that I am a part of the transgender community, which is very much part of Indian culture and tradition. And I am fighting for the right to marry for all. Thereby, I am fighting for the right to equality and dignity for all persons.
“Some of us may be left, others liberal, and yet others part of the hijra, transgender and sexual minority communities,” she added.