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Odisha’s first transgender gazetted officer Aishwarya plans marriage with live-in partner

Bhubaneswar: As they say, ‘Love is Love’. For Odisha’s first gazetted government officer from the transgender community, the fight against social stigma and domination finally ended with a triumph after the Supreme Court decriminalised Section 377 of the IPC ruling that consensual gay sex is not a crime.

Through the darkness, a ray of hope emerged in the life of Aishwarya Rituparna Pradhan, the first state civil servant from transgender community, who now plans to marry her live-in partner.

In a historic verdict, the Supreme Court judgement declared Section 377 of IPC, the penal provision which criminalised gay sex, as ‘manifestly arbitrary’.

With this the Court paved the way for LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, intersex and queer/questioning) community stating that it was no longer an offence to engage in consensual sex between two adults in private.

Aishwarya, formerly named as Ratikanta Pradhan, is an MA in public administration and has also a post-graduate diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC). She chose a difficult path and came out successful in Odisha Public Service Commission (OPSC) conducted ‘Odisha Financial Service (OFS)’ examination in 2010.

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She is currently posted as the Commercial Tax Officer (CTO) in Paradip. “My partner says only humans attract humans. And that is what attracted me the most. It’s more than two years that we are in a live-in relationship. I have a dream to have a family with my life partner. I have decided to adopt an orphan girl child after the marriage,” Aishwarya said.

After the Apex court ruling dated April 15, 2014 which recognised the transgender under the third gender category, she made up her mind to opt for third gender identity instead of male gender and this is how she turned Aishwarya from Ratikant. The Odisha government also conferred transgender identity to her through a gazette notification in 2017. “Only last year, I have been recognised officially as transgender on all official records,” she said.

However, the Supreme Court is yet to stamp its seal of approval on same-sex marriage. If we look into the conditions for a Hindu marriage, Section 5(iii) of The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the bridegroom must have completed the age of 21 years and the bride should have attained the age of 18 years at the time of the marriage. Here, ‘bridegroom’ and ‘bride’ clearly mean a heterosexual marriage.

As same sex marriage is still not valid in India, Aishwarya says she is eagerly waiting for the implementation of special marriage act or a new law for LGBTIQ community.

Senior advocate Dharanidhar Nayak too stated, “The current laws contemplate marriage between people of different sexes and clearly object marriage between same sexes. If this is going to happen, a special marriage act should be implemented.”

Therefore, now, the only concern in everyone’s mind is without changes in the law and religion, how can a gay marriage be performed? And if at all, this happens, which way would Aishwarya choose?

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