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Business News/ News / India/  Same Sex marriage in India: Will Supreme Court approve law despite govt's opposition?

The Supreme Court of India is slated to hear on the legalising same-sex marriage in India on 13 March, Monday. India had decriminalised homosexuality in 2018. 

On 7 September 2018, a 5-judge constitutional bench of Supreme Court of India invalidated part of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, hence making homosexuality legal in India.

However the legal status of same sex marriages in India remains unclear with religious and governmental opposition.

Narendra Modi led govt stance on Saem Sex Marriage

The Centre in a filing to the Supreme Court on Sunday stuck to its earlier stand that same-sex marriage is not compatible with the concept of an "Indian family unit", which it said consists of "a husband, a wife, and children which necessarily presuppose a biological man as a 'husband', a biological woman as a 'wife' and the children born out of the union between the two - who are reared by the biological man as father and the biological woman as mother". 

Legal status of same sex marriage in India

Marriages in India are governed by are strictly restricted to hetrosexual couples- a woman and a man. Tailored by India's several religious groups, marriages in India have been categorised under Hindu Marriage Act, Christian Marriage Act, Muslim Marriage Act, and Special Marriage Act.

None of these pertain to marriage between same sex couple. 

Legal Rights of LGBTQ people in India had been restricted for the longest. In 2018, India decided to overturn the colonial period draconian law of criminalising homosexuality. 

However, queer members have been pushing for equal rights in India. The expansion in their purview of Rights under the constitution has been helmed by the Supreme Court, thereby creating some semblance of hope that the apex court might legalize same sex marriage in India on 13 March. 

This hope remains despite opposition from all religious sects, and the Narendra Modi led BJP government at the Centre. 

A timeline- same sex marriage in India

In 2014, the Supreme Court of India laid the groundwork by giving legal recognition to non-binary or transgender persons as a “third gender."

In 2017, it strengthened the right to privacy, and also recognized sexual orientation as an essential attribute of an individual’s privacy and dignity.

In 2018, it decriminalized homosexual sex — overturning a British colonial-era law — and expanded constitutional rights for LGBTQ people.

In 2022, the apex court instituted protections for what it called “atypical" families. It’s a broad category that includes, for example, single parents, blended families or kinship relationships — and same-sex couples. The court said that such non-traditional manifestations of families are equally deserving of benefits under various social welfare legislation.

Countries where dame sex marriage is legal

By the end of 2022, the institution of same sex marriage was legal in 30 countries all around the world. However, these are mostly countries in Western Europe and the Americas. 

In Asia, only Taiwan allows same-sex marriage. 

Everywhere else the approach to same sex marriage within the Asian diaspora is conflicted. 

A Bloomberg article has confirmed that Hong Kong doesn’t allow same-sex marriage at home but will grant dependent visas to same-sex spouses of expatriate workers, for example. 

Thailand is inching toward recognition for civil unions.

 Other places have become more restrictive: Indonesia, which doesn’t recognize gay marriage, recently banned all extra-marital sex; Singapore’s parliament passed a law lifting a ban on sex between men but has blocked a path toward marriage equality. 

If India’s court sanctions same-sex marriage, the country would supplant the US as the biggest democracy with such rights for LGBTQ couples.

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Updated: 12 Mar 2023, 04:35 PM IST
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