Despite receiving threats, 23-year-old Urvi Shah, the CEO of Secunderabad-based Arranged Gay Marriage, has helped 21 couples get married. Arranged Gay Marriage takes love seriously, but with a pinch of salt – it is not all romance, but a fair dash of practicality as well.
Maitree Basu suffered from depression when she was unable to find a partner of her choice. Now, she is settled and happy. She has moved in with a woman she believes to be her soulmate and her mother has accepted her sexuality.
Purvish Ahuja, whose first crush was Shahrukh Khan, spoke to 31 people till he found his partner. He struggled through a life of difficult career choices and social rejection to find success and love. He and his partner plan to get married soon.
Gaurav Salve, of New York, lives with his Canadian husband in New Jersey. After a breakup, he took recourse in finding an arranged match for himself. The couple is now thinking of adopting a baby girl.
Maitree, Purvish and Gaurav all have something in common – Urvi’s bureau, Arranged Gay Marriage.
Urvi, 23, studied Development Studies at Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India. Part of her course focused on social entrepreneurship, and her final report was on LGBT issues. This got her thinking and she set up Arranged Gay Marriage with a friend.
She met India’s openly gay prince of Rajpipla, Manvendrasingh Gohil, and transgender rights activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, the first transgender person to represent Asia Pacific in the United Nations.
Drawing inspiration from them, Arranged Gay Marriage was established and first registered in Chicago in 2015.
Urvi completed her studies in April 2016 and took over the bureau as its CEO. In June 2016, she moved the registration to Secunderabad, India, where the organisation currently functions from. But since she is based out of Gujarat, she soon plans to move the registration to Ahmedabad.
Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which dates back to 1860, was brought into action after the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 and modelled on the Buggery Act of 1533 under the reign of King Henry VIII. Interestingly, the British government itself decriminalised homosexuality by passing the Sexual Offences Act of 1967. But, the colonial shadow still seems to cloud the Indian horizon.
In 2009, amid much uproar, the Delhi High Court ruled that Article 377 violates Fundamental Rights of citizens as outlined by the Constitution. However, the Supreme Court overruled this judgement in 2013, and non-heterosexuality continues to remain without validation – therefore, wrong – by law.
Urvi’s organisation seems to be the embodiment of the spirit that can be seen in pride walks. Everyone is proud and protective of each other like a true community.
Maitree recalls how Urvi is always supportive, attending calls till late in the night.
Her organisation not only arranges partnerships, but also offers counselling services to clients and their families. Clients fill out forms specifying likes and interests, which are then used to find suitable matches for them.
Arranged Gay Marriage takes love seriously, but with a pinch of salt – it is not all romance, but a fair dash of practicality as well.
Urvi says: “So far we have 21 married couples in India. Marriage is not legal here, but they get married for their own sake. We have 36 couples living in, and 26 where partners are yet to move in together. Abroad, 21 couples of mixed ethnicity are either married or engaged. Six couples comprise both NRI partners; four couples have legally married.”
Urvi’s team comprises mostly homosexual employees. Even as Arranged Gay Marriage continues to work well, Urvi now wants to set up an organisation that arranges for employment for homosexuals.
But it hasn’t been easy. She has received threats, she recalls, asking her to stop her work.
“There were phone calls telling us that we would be in trouble if we didn’t stop. But we never paid much attention to those,” she smiles. She’s staying true to her company’s motto: Get hitched without a hitch!