We belong to a country where the concept of love affairs, premarital sex or casual sex is still looked down upon as something immoral, sinful and indecent. A large cohort of the younger generation of India has never felt comfortable discussing about topics pertaining to love or sex with their parents and have always found it convenient to hide things. It is 2018 and we still do not have mandatory sex education in our schools. So, it is easily believable that when young unmarried couples try to get a room in hotels, most of the times they are either refused or at times even harassed. But the question is, ‘Is there any law that discourages unmarried couples from checking into a hotel? Is it illegal?’ The answer is NO.
“There is no law that prohibits unmarried couples from staying together in hotels. Choosing to stay together is a personal choice and falls under freedom of movement, which cannot be restricted.”
-Sudha Ramalingam, Senior Advocate
Some people feel the need to protect the Indian ‘traditions’ and ‘values’. They take upon the duty on themselves to ‘cleanse’ the nation of ‘modern ways of life’ by interfering. They fail to understand that what consensually happens between two adults is not the business of any other person let alone the police or any other law enforcing agents. There have been several occasions where young unmarried couples have been harassed in public spaces. For instance, in 2015, around 40 couples were unlawfully arrested from the hotel rooms by the police and were charged under ‘indecent public behaviour’ and were fined 1200 rupees. To add to their misery, they were detained at the nearest police station and were forced to call up their parents. The police do such things because they feel it is their responsibility to teach a ‘moral’ lesson to these young couples and make them feel guilty of having committed a serious ‘crime’. Such incidents are a realistic reflection of the values of the society that we inhabit. Thus, it is not surprising if a large number of Indian citizens innately believe that it is ‘illegal’ for an unmarried couple to get a room together.
Also, are hotels allowed to refuse accommodation to an unmarried couple? The answer again is, No. Yet, many hotels across the country unapologetically refuse stay to such couples. The reasons they do it is because they fear police interference, raids and unwanted trouble. Well, their own notions of protecting Indian culture and sanctity are also a reason. Some excuses that couples usually get from such hotels after being denied a room are:
“Sorry Sir, there is no room available”, “We are sorry, Sir. Hotel policy hai.”
For some hotel managers, unmarried couples wanting to stay together comes as a big shock,
“Family member hai ya apke brother hai yeh?”, “Kya? Ap dono married nahi ho?”
Only the five star and high end hotels are an exception to such ‘policies’ and ‘rules’.
“We are not aware of any such rules”
–Bharat Bhushan, HAI (The Hotel Association of India) spokesperson
As citizens of this country, we should be aware of our rights. First of all it is not a crime to stay in a hotel with your partner if you are unmarried. Till the time, you are 18+, can produce a legal proof of your identity and do not engage in any illegal activity, no hotel can refuse to accommodate you. No hotel can deny you a stay even if you are from the same city. Also, be aware that the police cannot arrest you from the hotel room on the grounds of ‘Indecent public behavior’ since hotel space is a private one and not public. If anybody, even be the police tries to photograph or videotape you with the intention of harassing or blackmailing, you can always file a FIR. Photographing or videotaping anyone without permission is a breach of privacy and is against the law.
This is some serious issue, right? Young couples, fret not since there are other ways too to book a room. You can try booking a room through couple friendly apps such as MakeMyTrip or Booking.com. These apps ensure your safety, privacy and make sure that you do not end up at a hotel where unmarried couples are not welcomed. The OYO Rooms app provides you with ‘relationship mode’ feature which you can turn on and book a room at affordable prices. Startups such as StayUncle and LuvStay also aim to provide rooms for young couples with no judgements attached. They ensure safeguard of identities and no interference of police. These startups even allow you to book a room for as little as 10 hours. You can now enjoy a romantic getaway hassle free.
So, find a room, make love and stay safe.
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