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India’s Supreme Court To Rule On Same-Sex Marriage

The highest court of India.

Uncover how India's highest court is about to take a stance on same-sex marriages. 

On Friday, the Indian Supreme Court ordered the transfer of all petitions regarding the legal recognition of same-sex marriages, pending in different high courts across the country, to itself. This move grants petitioners the freedom to argue their case before the court either virtually or in person, depending on their availability.

A Step Toward Freedom, But Still Far from Change

In 2018, the Supreme Court of India took a historic first step towards freedom and equality by decriminalizing same-sex relationships. Despite this progress, members of India's LGBTQ+ community continue to face discrimination, with their relationships still not officially recognized. This is a sad injustice that serves as a reminder of the depth of prejudice they must endure daily.

But encouraged by the events occurring around the world, some couples decided to take matters into their own hands. They filed lawsuits in several high courts across the nation, culminating with the Supreme Court.

The Main Plaintiffs Engaged in This Battle For Marriage Equality

The November-25-2022 Petition

On November 25, 2022, a significant leap forward for same-sex couples' rights occurred when the Supreme Court delivered its judgment on the first two petitions submitted that sought legal recognition of marriage equality under the Special Marriage Act. Neeraj Kishan Kaul was the main petitioner's representative, while Chief Justice D. Y. Chandrachud presided over this momentous ruling.

The December-14-2022 Petition

On December 14, 2022, another petition was submitted to the Supreme Court of India. The petitioners were a same-sex couple who sought legal recognition for their marriage registered overseas. Their argument claimed that denying this right would strike against the fundamental tenets of the Indian Constitution. The two had wed in the United States back in 2014 and desired to have their union legally recognized under Indian laws.

"The present petition has been filed praying that this court may be pleased to issue a declaration to the effect that persons belonging to the LGBTQIA+ Community have the same right to marriage as their heterosexual counterparts and a denial, therefore, is violative of the rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 19, and 21 of Part III of the Constitution of India, and upheld in various judgments of the Supreme Court, including Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India and NALSA v. Union of India," the couple's plea said.

Hope For Recognition Of Same-Sex Marriages Soon

The Supreme Court granted registration of two petitions on its agenda. Therefore, on March 13, 2023, the Court will start assessing petitions aiming to grant marriage equality under various laws, such as the Special Marriage Act, the Foreign Marriage Act, and the Hindu Marriage Act.

To help further this cause, the Court has appointed a lead counsel to represent both parties. This lead counsel is Menaka Guruswamy, along with a team of lawyers from the Naz Foundation — an organization dedicated to defending the rights of India's LGBTQ+ community. These attorneys are standing up for the four same-sex couples mentioned above.

In addition, Chief Justice of India D. Y. Chandrachud also suggested that the Solicitor General and lawyers representing the petitioners discuss and establish matters for debate.

Furthermore, the bench of judges has requested that the government share its stance concerning marriage equality and submit its response by February 15, 2023.

What Is The Government's View On Marriage Equality?

Despite the tireless efforts of advocates for same-sex marriage, the Hindu nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains opposed to recognizing same-sex marriages. Instead, this government appears intent on preserving traditional family values and customs. Therefore, we can only expect the Indian government to oppose marriage equality again.

The Debate Around Same-Sex Marriage In India

As you can see, an increasing number of advocates are standing firm in favor of marriage equality rights, while others remain committed to upholding more traditional standards.

Indian citizens have been asked for their views on the matter, and the answers present a diverse range of opinions. Some view acceptance of same-sex marriage as a "violation" of Indian cultural values, whereas others believe that allowing same-sex marriage would drastically improve the legal protections for LGBTQ+ individuals in India and is therefore essential.

We already know that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of recognizing same-sex marriage in India, it will have an immeasurable historic and symbolic impact.
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Saturday, 28 January 2023