Mother of Harrish Iyer searches for a groom for her son in Indian newspaper

Harrish Iyer is an equal rights activist in India

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It is thought to be the first advertisement to be printed in an Indian newspaper which seeks a partner for a same-sex marriage.

The mother of equal rights activist Harrish Iyer placed the advert to find a groom for her son in Mumbai’s Mid-Day newspaper on Tuesday.

The advert read: “Seeking 25-40, Well Placed, Animal-Loving, Vegetarian Groom for my son (36, 5’11”) who works with an NGO, Caste No Bar (Though IYER Preferred).”

However, homosexuality is illegal in India. In 2013 the Supreme Court overturned a landmark ruling from four years earlier which had decriminalised homosexual acts.

Iyer, 36, told the BBC that he did not understand the controversy: “It was an innocent attempt by a mother to find a partner for her son. She did what any other would have done. I do not understand the controversy over this advert.”

Iyer has received some responses from the advert and said this his mother, Padma, will create a shortlist. “I am looking forward to meet[ing] them. I am hoping to find a partner now,” he said.

A line in the advert said someone from the Iyer Caste would be preferred, despite India's Caste system regularly coming under fire for being discriminatory.

Iyer said: “Like most people my mother thought that a person from familiar surroundings would be better. But look at the ad, it says ‘caste no bar’. Our family is multicultural. My mother’s sister is married to a Muslim.”

It is thought that some Indian newspapers refused to publish the advert.

In response to a comment request from the Wall Street Journal, Mid-Day’s executive director Sachin Kalbag said: “As an organisation, we have always supported equal rights for everyone… Therefore, when the gay matrimony ad came to our office, we did not even think twice about publishing it."