For 24-year-old Urvi Shah, equality was not just an ideal but a reality to strive for. This is why this daughter of a printing press owner set up India’s first and only matrimonial service for gays and lesbians. 'Arranged Gay Marriage' has so far conducted 21 marriages.
Though Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalises sexual activities of sexual minorities, there is no law in India regarding the marriage between people of the same sex.
Though the marriages don't get marriage certificates or rights, it holds symbolic value for couples.
A graduate of Development Studies at Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, Urvi started AGM when she was 23. For someone who always stood up for the cause, Urvi's final-year project focused on LGBTQ rights, which then led her to start AGM. Apart from marriages, there are 36 couples living in.
In an earlier interview with YourStory, Urvi had said,
Abroad, 21 couples of mixed ethnicity are either married or engaged. Six couples comprise NRI partners; four couples have legally married.
Urvi says that her source of inspiration was transgender rights activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, India’s openly gay prince of Rajpipla and Manvendra Singh Gohil. In 2015, when Chicago welcomed its first registered arranged gay marriage, Urvi drew her lessons from them, she adds.
The Secunderabad-based organisation, is eyeing expansion to Ahmedabad, the city Urvi hails from. The AGM also offers counseling services to families, apart from arranging marriages. Like all matrimonial services, the clients are asked to fill up a form that describes their likes and interests before finding suitable matches.