Our concept of a family should embrace liberty2 min read . Updated: 01 Sep 2022, 10:12 PM IST
The Supreme Court has done well by offering India an inclusive definition of a family unit. We must go beyond old norms to assure everyone their basic right to look after loved ones
What makes a family? Who belongs to it? Simple questions, one may think. But for the non-conformists of society, the power to answer these on their own terms can take years of struggle. Think of a gay couple trying to live together in a country that outlaws their relationship. Think of inter-caste couples who paid with their lives because their families saw murder as a means to uphold dubious notions of ‘honour’. Think of trans-people who find support, friendship and the space to be who they are, free of violence and stigma, only once they leave the traditional fold of their family. The inherent conservatism in society, culture and law tends to hold up the normative family—father, mother, children (add grandchildren and relatives who form kinship networks)—as the only such unit worthy of recognition, ever ready to discourage any deviations. But, as our Supreme Court observed this week, this assumption goes against the lived realities of people and ignores the fact that “many families do not conform" to this patriarchal norm.