Features Tuesday, May 19, 2015 - 05:30

  Most newspapers and TV channels in the country have been pro-LGBT rights and criticised the court and government’s regressive stand on the issue. But when it comes to going the extra mile on taking a stand, how many newspapers will oblige? Gay rights activist Harish Iyer put this to test after DNA newspaper reportedly declined to carry a matrimonial advertisement given by his mother Padma Iyer. A BuzzFeed report says that after DNA’s rejection, Harish Iyer took it on him to test other papers and sent the ad to Hindustan Times and Times of India. The report says that while TOI maintained its legal department said such an ad was illegal, Hindustan Times refused the advertisement outright. The fourth and last publication that Harish Iyer approached was Mid-Day newspaper that promptly carried the advertisement. One of the reasons behind refusing to carry the ad may have been India’s stand on Section 377, which criminalises LGBT marriages. However, the family itself has been received a lot of criticism for mentioning its preference for an individual from the "Iyer" community.  The News Minute spoke to Harish about the response the ad has gotten from people everywhere. “This ad is going viral, but besides it going viral, it has received a lot of negative responses,” he confesses. What was the base of the negativity and objections? “There are many objections to the fact that my mom wrote ‘Iyer preferred’. If you look at matrimonial ads in all leading newspapers, they mention all sorts of things such as wheatish skin, fair skin, etc. Some ads even specify the type of figure they want the women to have. It’s so common to see all these discriminatory things in the papers. And suddenly, people are offended by the fact that my mom wrote ‘Iyer preferred’,” he says. “My mom put ‘Iyer preferred’ because that’s the kind of familiar territory that she comes from,” he reaffirms. “To begin with, my mom was not very supportive of my sexuality when I first came out to her. But she’s not the kind of person who would wet her feet in the river. She believes in diving in and taking a swim,” he told TNM. “The idea behind the matrimonial ad is what she thought she would have done if I was straight. It didn’t stop her that I was gay,” he told TNM. Update (20/05/2015): Harish Iyer's mother Padma Iyer has released the following statement following the backlash on social media.   Since Harish asked me to clear my stand i am posting this. I wouldn't care to justify otherwise. Mothers of gay people... Posted by Padma Iyer on Tuesday, May 19, 2015 "Since Harish asked me to clear my stand i am posting this. I wouldn't care to justify otherwise. Mothers of gay people are not saints they can have their prejudices like most mothers and most humans would. The IYER PREF was meant to be a tease. Though I should admit that is typical that mothers wish their children should be married to families whose culture we know of. My sister is married to a Muslim. My second son is married to a non veg eating Maharashtrian. My niece is married to a Christian. All are treated equally. I would like to also share that I am not bothered about the caste or religion of his partner per se. It would be nice if he makes his choice soon given that he has a huge list of things that he will not tolerate in his partner."   

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