The recent decision by the Supreme Court of India not to grant legal recognition to same-sex marriages represents a significant legal setback for the queer community in the country. Despite the advancements in law and the evolving understanding of individual rights in recent years, there was widespread anticipation that the five-judge Constitution Bench would interpret the Special Marriage Act (SMA) in a gender-neutral manner, thereby allowing individuals of the same sex to marry.
- Issues Related to Transgenders
- Welfare Schemes
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The recent decision by the Supreme Court of India not to grant legal recognition to same-sex marriages represents a significant legal setback for the queer community in the country. Elucidate. (15 marks, 250 words).
More on the Judgement:
- Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul acknowledged the right of queer couples to seek recognition for their unions but refrained from altering the provisions of the SMA to that effect.
- On the other hand, Justices S. Ravindra Bhat, Hima Kohli, and P.S. Narasimha held that any recognition for such unions should be based solely on statute, endorsing the government’s perspective that legalizing same-sex marriages falls within the legislative domain.
Implications of the judgement:
- By asserting that there is no fundamental right to marry, the court has contradicted expectations that it would not tolerate discrimination against same-sex couples in the realm of marriage.
- While marriage is acknowledged as a social institution with legal requirements, the court views the right to seek social and legal validation through marriage as subject to statutory limitations.
- The majority stance is against the idea that queer couples have the right to adopt children, but it aligns with the minority position that there is no prohibition on transpersons entering into heterosexual marriages.
- The judges unanimously agree on the right of same-sex couples to cohabit freely without coercion or threats.
- Given potential opposition to the legalization of same-sex marriages on religious and cultural grounds in large sections of India, the likelihood of Parliament taking the initiative for such legislation appears dim.
Consequently, the LGBTQIA+ community may find solace in the court’s directive for the government to establish a committee to determine the rights and entitlements of queer couples. Nevertheless, the community faces an ongoing struggle for legal equality, as the law is yet to catch up with their aspirations.