The Big S: S for Sushma and S For Sanskars

The minister of external affairs has projected India as a discriminating, homophobic country. 

6 min read
Hindi Female

I have adored and loved Sushma Swaraj for all her twitter updates. Her proactiveness in helping people, who are either stuck in foreign land or helping people get their passports on time as a response to one distress tweet by an Indian national, is awe-inspiring. Hence I am worried and terribly disappointed at her statements on the Surrogacy Bill.

One should really be debating about the rights of women who go through surrogacy and protect them with adequate regulation so that they take an informed decision, which is evaluated by psychiatrists, sociologists and gynaecologists. But this has rather become another feather of bigotry and homophobia in the cap of the government. Sushma’s statement was again a clarion call of the big S word – sanskars.

Sanskari surrogate children could be availed of only by heterosexual couples who are married for five years or more and have no children of their own and are medically certified as incapable of having children of their own.

The minister of external affairs has projected India as a discriminating, homophobic country. 
Single people can no longer become parents. (Photo: iStock)

No surrogacy for gay couples, no surrogacy for live-in couples, no surrogacy for single people, no surrogacy for rich people, (especially rich people who have two children already). Basically no surrogacy for anyone who is not “sanskari” for this government. While I would have loved the debate to be about the rights of the surrogate mother, this bill and Sushma’s comments, threw the debate into a tangent.

The minister of external affairs has projected India as a discriminating, homophobic country. 
Ban on commercial surrogacy will have far-reaching effects in India. (Photo: iStock)

Let’s break down each one of her “targets”.

Let’s begin with the big and famous.

Sushma didn’t take names when she mentioned that celebrities who have not one but two children, yet they go in for surrogacy. She was too bored to mention the same name again. But I love Aamir Khan and I will take his name. I don’t like Shah Rukh as much, but I will take his name too. When will the government get bored of Aamir Khan, I wondered, and Sushma got bored. I am sure Aamir doesn’t want any fan following from the government. He just wants to be left alone with his family.

The minister of external affairs has projected India as a discriminating, homophobic country. 
Shah Rukh Khan with AbRam. (Photo: Yogen Shah)

Being rich and famous is no crime, and I am sure that there would have been zero exploitation in conceiving Aamir and Kiran’s child - Azad Rao Khan. I am also certain that Shah Rukh and Gauri, who was 43 when AbRam was born, didn’t go about with millions in their purse hunting for women with fertile wombs. It is a person’s right to think of having their own child.

While I would secretly wish that everyone turned Angelina Jolie and adopted more children than adding more to the world, I also believe that the blanket assumption that all of surrogacy is exploitative is also incorrect. There could be mothers who would want to extend their help altruistically and also make some financial benefit.

Anyways, in a democracy, what’s Sushma’s problem if someone took the legal route of surrogacy when it was available? Can Sushma tell me what is her research to prove that surrogates were exploited or that the celebrities were exploitative of the children?

Sushma mentioned live-in couples. There are many who don’t believe in the concept of marriage.

The minister of external affairs has projected India as a discriminating, homophobic country. 
Many live-in couples want to become parents through surrogacy. (Photo: iStock)
Speaking of sanskars, we have had even Hindu gods who were lovers and never married. The only act where I think live-in couples are protected is the domestic violence act. Otherwise they are largely ignored or ostracised by the world.

Speaking about me, as in homosexuals, Sushma went a step further by calling homosexual couples against Indian ethos.

Well, that’s what Sushma’s statement is – against Indian ethos. India has the culture of respecting people who are of different genders and different sexualities. If one would go through the carvings in temples, one would see many depictions of homosexuality, bisexuality and trans-sexuality.

I believe India still is a nation that respects plurality. I think her statement depicts Indians as homophobes. And is extremely anti-national. Moreover, it violates article 14 and 15 of the Indian Constitution that speaks about the right to equality and protection against discrimination.

One good thing that came out of this highly disappointing view of Sushma Swaraj and the venom she spewed, is that she acknowledged that there are gay couples in this country. Well, Sushmaji, that’s a progress. In good humour, I would say that we have to rejoice at the mere utterance of words by her, acknowledging our existence.


The surrogacy law leaves several questions unanswered.

What will happen to the women who are now receiving a staple income through surrogacy? And they have made a fully informed choice to be a surrogate mother?

The minister of external affairs has projected India as a discriminating, homophobic country. 
Childless couples undergo immense ostracisation in India. (Photo: iStock)
What will happen to the couples who want to have a child and are not able to find a relative to carry the child? (Like, if they had a relative who is offering such services, they wouldn’t think of taking the services of a surrogate mother in the first place).  

What is the government doing to ensure that childless couples are not ostracised? Do you have any programmes introduced to minimise the stigma that childless couples go through? Isn’t it the same sanskaars that say “putavati bhava”? Will the government organise programmes to educate people against such “blessings”?

Of course, we gay people are capable of being good parents. It has been scientifically proved so, if the government cares to do some scientific research (I know it is too much to ask, but khair...). How does it go against Indian ethos?


I am pro-choice, but I am more pro-adoption. Whether it is human babies or cats or puppies, it is better to adopt the ones who need a home than to make new ones. I also realise though that I can’t enforce my morality on others. I can suggest though that if one could have a massive “beti-bachao-beti-padao” and “swach-bharat-abhiyaan” and of course “abki baar Modi Sarkaar”, then massive and equal effort should be taken in promoting adoption which would mean strengthening monitoring and evaluation while parallelly also making the process of adoption easy and accessible to all.

The minister of external affairs has projected India as a discriminating, homophobic country. 
Homosexual couples make excellent parents as well. (Photo: iStock)
I promise you, Sushma, the LGBT community can look after betis, betas and children of other genders, and “bachao”, “padao” and “kaabil banao” them - especially the ones that have been thrown out of homes or are unwanted pregnancies of heterosexual couples.

Finally, moving out of the rainbow bubble, speaking for all the people Sushma mentioned, live-in couples, rich and famous, homosexuals... with all the blatant discrimination and prejudice in your statements Sushma, can you tell me, is discrimination Indian ethos? Is “to discriminate” and to “not be inclusive” the Indian sanskar? Well, my idea of India is about inclusivity, and so is the constitution of our country.

Sushma, your statements, are thus truly, anti national!

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