Three years ago, 23-year-old Urvi Shah founded the Gay Arranged Marriages service in Hyderabad’s twin city—Secunderabad—to fill a void, New Zealand’s Stuff reported.
Describing Indian culture as “founded on marriage and family values,” she said she saw that gay people felt “left out” because they could not marry, and created her service as a way to address this need.
Although their marriages are not legally recognised, Shah explained that the gay couples she works with value the symbolism of a ceremony binding them with their partner. Her service also identifies a Hindu priest who will carry out the proceedings, she explained.
Today, more than 1,500 people are registered with the matchmaking service, and 42 couples have gotten married in the last three years. Forty-eight more are living together. The service differs from online dating forums and apps, on which the emphasis is more on casual sex, clients point out.
Shah also arranges for counselling to be offered to the parents of her clients, but it doesn’t always work.
Newlywed Amar Kumar, a 37-year-old who says he found the “love of his life” with match Jatin, was disowned by his parents over his recent marriage.
Kumar told Stuff that he is a “happy man,” despite the estrangement from his family, and that the ceremony with Jatin “has bound [them] together for life.”