The Whispers of Fatherhood: Where are India’s Gay Dads?

Every year, Father’s Day falls within June—the month that’s dedicated to LGBTQIA+ Pride. And after the historical verdict against Section 377, it might appear that the battle for equality is over—but there’s still a long way to go. Many queer couples in India want to raise children but can’t.

By Adarsh Soni
20 Jun 2021

This fall, Shayan and Arit mark a milestone—the couple has been together for eight years. “We met when we were both finishing our masters degree at the Jadavpur University in Kolkata, I was the one to make the first move and we have been inseparable since” says Shayan. After the first few years of a passionate relationship that’s going strong even after almost a decade, the couple decided to settle down and get ‘pretend’ married. The ceremony was simple and intimate—they exchanged rings and a set of personal vows—witnessed by their closest friends and some of their family. Even though their marriage is not acknowledged by the law, it still gives them a sense of emotional security. But no matter how happy they make each other, there’s something that’s missing—a baby to complete the picture. “For us Indians, family is paramount. But how often do you come across a same-sex couple attending a parents-teacher meeting at your kid’s school? And when was the last time a gay couple or for that matter, a single LGBTQI+ parent allowed to adopt?” Shayan adds.


Almost all of the laws that fall within the sphere of ‘family law’ in India, including those related to adoption and surrogacy, are in some way or the other linked to the Hindu Marriage Act. And since the LGBTQIA+ community has been excluded from the right to marriage, access to all these other laws is barred. According to India’s Adoption Regulations, 2017, as published on the official website for the Central Adoption Resource Authority, couples who have been married for at least two years, as well as single women, can adopt a child of any gender while a single man is eligible only to adopt a male child. As for the same-sex couples and transgender individuals? Nothing. Not even a slight mention, almost as if they didn’t even exist.


But it gets worse. Not only are same-sex couples or single LGBTQI+ parents not allowed to adopt, they’re also banned from having biological children via surrogacy. Thanks to the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill that was approved by the Union Cabinet in February, 2020. According to this bill, commercial surrogacy is completely banned, and altruistic surrogacy is allowed only for Indian married couples, Indian origin married couples and Indian single women who are either widowed or divorced. Once again, no mention of same-sex couples, or single parents is to be found.


“Most of our gay and lesbian friends left India as soon as they could afford to settle overseas, but that was never an option for us. Our families are living here in Kolkata and we don’t want to leave them behind—especially after both of our parents were so accepting of our relationship. I mean, it should not be that hard to be able to build a family with your loved ones right? It’s preposterous that we are being denied basic human rights,” says Arit. “So we keep fighting, like we fought to decriminalise section 377. I know that a bunch of public interest litigations demanding for more inclusive laws were filed last year, and although they might seem like a voice crying in the wilderness right now, we’re hopeful that one day we’ll be able to raise a family of our own—right here in our own country,” he adds.


Follow Us On Instagram