Frustrated by her gay son’s continued single status, the mother of Mumbai human rights activist Harish Iyer has taken out an ad to find him a husband.
It reads: “Seeking 25-40, Well-placed, Animal-Loving, Vegetarian GROOM for my SON (36, 5’11”) who works with an NGO, Caste No Bar (Though IYER Preferred).”
It’s believed to be the country’s first gay “matrimonial ad”, which are a common means to match heterosexual couples and arrange marriages in India.
The ad was published in the Mid-Day newspaper after two other newspapers refused to run it because of concern that it would fall foul of the country’s gay sex ban.
India has come under fire for the ban, which carries penalties including imprisonment. The law was struck down in 2009 by the Delhi High Court, but reinstated in December 2013 by the Supreme Court.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Sachin Kalbag, editor of Mid-Day, said: “In India, matrimonial ads are one of the best ways to find a life partner, given the prevalence of ‘arranged marriage’. With this ad, Harrish Iyer’s mother hopes to find a groom for her son… We wish them both all the very best in their endeavour.”
The ad, however, has been criticised for its stated preference for a potential suitor from the high Iyer caste.
Iyer explained to HuffPost India that although his mother, Padma, wouldn’t object to a possible husband from others castes, “she would love it if he happens to come from a familiar territory that she knows about.”
He insisted that it was “not really caste discrimination.”
Iyer told the Times of India, “My mom worries about me too much. She is constantly thinking that I am getting old, will be alone, and all those concerns a mother has. So, she and I had a discussion last week and decided to go ahead with placing a matrimonial ad looking for a gay person.”
He revealed that at least three people had so far responded to the ad.