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India’s government opposes same-sex marriage as Supreme Court hears landmark case

India’s government opposes same-sex marriage as Supreme Court hears landmark case -The Indian government has submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court on its view of same-sex marriage, calling it “elitist” and claiming that legalising it “seriously affects the interests of every citizen”. This comes as the court begins to hear a series of petitions calling for the legalisation of same-sex marriage. LGBTQ+ couples and activists have brought forward the collective lawsuit in the hopes of introducing marriage equality in the country.

read more: UK government moves towards banning trans people from same-sex spaces


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Government’s view on same-sex marriage

India’s government describes marriage as being only valid between biological males and females, and claims that this definition is “ingrained” into the idea and concept of marriage. The government argues that it should not be “disturbed or diluted by judicial interpretation”. Additionally, the statement describes the demand for same-sex marriage as a “mere urban elitist view for the purpose of social acceptance”. The government has claimed that “petitions which merely reflect urban elitist views cannot be compared with the appropriate legislature which reflects the views and voices of a far wider spectrum”.

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Supreme Court hearing

India’s Supreme Court is to hear final arguments regarding the issue on Thursday (20 April), after dozens of petitions urging for legal protections to be put in place were submitted over the last decade. The latest set of lawsuits were brought before the court on Tuesday (18 April) as part of a collective effort to battle for LGBTQ+ rights.

Potential landmark moment for LGBTQ+ community

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A ruling in favour of same-sex marriage would mark another landmark moment for the LGBTQ+ community in India. Same-sex sexual activity was decriminalised in 2018 following a similar Supreme Court case. Currently, queer couples in India are only permitted to be in “unregistered cohabitations” meaning that they can live together, but aren’t afforded the rights of heterosexual married couples.

Government’s arguments

As part of the government’s arguments, prime minister Modi not only opposed the hearing itself, but also the recent promotion of a gay lawyer to a position on the Supreme Court. Additionally, the government attempts to argue that legislation and societal views in India deem marriage to be “exclusively heterogeneous”. However, data collected by Ipsos in 2021 shows that acceptance of LGBTQ+ couples in India has risen dramatically over the past few years, with only 18 per cent being against same-sex marriage as opposed to the 58 per cent supporting it.

read more: Gay Republican Lawmaker Faces Opposition for Same-Sex Marriage Amendment

Motivations for legalisation

Petitioning Delhi couple Kavita Arora and Ankita Khanna were motivated to bring the case due to the practical benefits of marriage that aren’t currently afforded to LGBTQ+ couples. Currently, the couple would not be able to hold a joint bank account, adopt, own property together, be recognised for inheritance or give each other medical consent. Similarly, queer couple Supriyo Chakraborty and Abhay Dange said in March that their own personal liberty was being mitigated by the law.

Legalising same-sex marriage in India

Legalising same-sex marriage would be an incredibly historic moment, not only for India but for the entire continent of Asia. To date, Taiwan is the only country in Asia where same-sex marriage is legally recognised.

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