An Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) graduate, Mr Sathawane, 40, tied the knot with his Vietnamese partner, Vinh, in his hometown in Maharastra’s Yavatmal, 670 kilometres from Mumbai, in the last week of December.
Initially, he was hesitant about the whole marriage business, he said, but he discussed it with his friends and they were quite supportive of his choices in life. “They were open-minded and I thought I was underestimating how progressive people are. It was encouraging. However, it was a challenge to make my parents understand,” he said.
He had spoken on social media that earlier his parents didn’t approve of his sexual orientation, but eventually he convinced them to welcome his partner to the family.
“My parents were nervous. They were concerned and said ‘you are ruining our family name’, but I told them it had to be done. In the end, it all turned out great,” he said about the wedding.
Talking about why he chose to get married in Yavatmal, he said, “I was born and brought up here. A lot of my friends are here. If I had a wedding in the US how would I have shared my happiness with them?”
Marriage between people of the same sex isn’t legal in India. In fact, sexual activities between members of the same gender are an offence. However, the Supreme Court has decided to re-examine the constitutional validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises sexual acts “against the order of nature” punishable with imprisonment for life and a fine. In 2013, it had restored a controversial British-era ban on gay sex. “It’s simple, if two people fall in love, and they want to live their life together, without bothering anyone, I don’t see why should anybody have an objection to that,” Mr Sathawane.
Ancient Indians were open-minded, he added, and we have proof in the form of temple carvings and literature. “We need to claim our culture back,” he said.