India’s Supreme Court declines to allow same-sex marriages

LGBTQ community supporters and members wait for the Supreme Court verdict  on Tuesday  (AP)
LGBTQ community supporters and members wait for the Supreme Court verdict on Tuesday (AP)

India’s top court on Tuesday declined to allow same-sex marriages in the country.

A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court gave its ruling this morning that will come as a major blow to tens of millions in the LGBTQ+ community in India, who had hoped the supreme court judges would recognise their constitutional right to marriage equality.

The chief justice of the country D.Y. Chandrachud said making such a law is the domain of parliament.

The court heard petitions in the case between April and May, which were seeking to change the law to allow same-sex people to be legally married.

In 2018 the supreme court scrapped a colonial-era law banning homosexuality in India. However, society has remained largely conservative and there was resistance to opening up marriage to same-sex couples.

In its lengthy judgement, the Supreme Court urged the government to create legal recognition for same-sex couples so that they do not face discrimination, but stopped short of including such couples within the existing legal framework of marriage.

Despite Justice Chandrachud speaking in favour of allowing same-sex and unmarried couples to adopt children, the court also ruled by three judges to two against expanding the definition of adoption laws to permit this.

The case involved 21 separate petitions from members of the LGBT+ community who argued that not being able to marry violated their constitutional rights, making them “second-class citizens”.

The government and religious leaders had strongly opposed same-sex unions.

The Indian government had opposed the case, calling the arguments for equality “urban elitist views” and stating that marriages were not “comparable with the Indian family unit concept of a husband, a wife and children”. It had argued that the matter should be decided in parliament not the courts.