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Finding A Place to Stay Is A Struggle For The LGBTQ Community

ICICI Securities 17 Jun 2022
  • Due to social taboo, a lot of homeowners refuse to give their houses to the LGBTQ+ community on rent
  • Often, they have to pose as relatives or cousins to be able to get a home on rent
  • Joint home loans are not available to most same sex couples
  • Submission of marriage certificate is a must, but same sex marriages are not legal in India
  • One of the partners can become a loan guarantor to share the responsibility of loan repayment

The unfriendly laws and society in India make it tough for the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, questioning and others) community. Recently, the increasing focus of filmmakers and artists on the community have brought to the fore some of the issues they face. On the ground, however, issues remain.

Taking A House On Lease Is A Problem

It’s never easy for the community to rent out houses, as a result of the associated taboo and prying eyes of the houseowners and neighbours.

Often, couples have to come up with inventive ways to be able to live together. The movie, Badhaai Do, took up the issue. The movie shows that the protagonists chose to pose as heterosexuals in order to get married and be able to pursue their own interests, while ensuring that they had a roof over their heads. When the female protagonist’s partner moves in, she has to pose as her cousin to settle neighbours’ curiosity.

No Joint Home Loans Available

Buying a house in their names also becomes a challenge as there is no facility for them to own a property in joint names. Often, they need to pose as cousins or distant relatives to be able to buy a house together. Otherwise, they have no option but to buy a house only in the name of one partner.

Joint home loans are available mostly to married couples. Usually, borrowers need to fulfil know your customer (KYC) norms at the time of application. This involves submission of various documents such as proof of income and marriage certificate. At this stage, it gets clear whether a couple is legally married or not. Naturally, same sex couples are unable to provide such certification as their marriages or partnerships are not legally recognized.  

In some cases, joint loans are also available to relatives or cousins after valid documents to support the relationship are provided.

However, one of the ways they can take a loan jointly is by becoming a guarantor. While this is not exactly like taking a joint loan, the responsibility of repaying lies with both partners in such a case. A guarantor is, typically, held responsible for the repayment of a loan in case the primary borrower defaults.

Change is happening in pockets, but only to a limited extent. For instance, some employers have LGBTQ+-friendly policies. Benefits such as life insurance and maternity leave are applicable to everyone, including “partners” and adoptive parents. Moreover, some banks now allow same sex couples to open joint accounts. However, the industry needs to take bold steps ahead before the LGBTQ+ community is financially empowered.

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