India’s Supreme Court won’t legalize gay marriage, deferring to parliament. This decision follows the decriminalization of gay sex five years ago. Conservatives oppose same-sex marriage for traditional family reasons.
Gay Marriage Not Legalized In Shocking Decision
On Tuesday, India’s Supreme Court decided that it would not legalize gay marriage. Instead, it will be up to parliament to decide if the country will allow same-sex marriage.
Until Recently, Queerness Was a Crime
Just five years ago, the Supreme Court rescinded a ban on gay sex, effectively decriminalizing the act.
LGBTQ community members in India hoped that the court would finally legalize gay marriage this week, but that right remains in limbo.
Conservatives Push Back
Conservatives in India hope to encourage parliament to uphold the ban. The Bharatiya Janata Party said that gay marriage contradicts “the Indian family unit concept of a husband, a wife and children.”
Decision From the Bench Was Unanimous
The Indian Supreme Court, which requires judges to retire at age 65, came to a unanimous decision between the five judges who heard the case. Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud presided over the bench.
“The Court Cannot Make Law,” Says Justice
Chandrachun said that the court decision was based on the scope of the court’s practice, acknowledging that the case was extremely complicated.
“The court cannot make law. It can only interpret it and give effect to it,” he said.
A Complicated Case
Four of the five judges on the bench wrote separate judgments about the decision.
They also decided to leave it to a panel to discuss what to do as far as laws surrounding gay couples in India apart from just marriage.
Discriminated Against In Daily Life
Currently, Indian gay couples cannot apply for mortgages together or open joint bank accounts.
These “human concerns” will be considered by a panel that the court has appointed to discuss such issues.
A Panel Is Assembled
Requiring that the panel include experts on the LGBTQ community and the social issues they face, the court asked it to review the rights of same-sex couples.
Are Civil Unions a Fair Compromise?
Two of the five judges, including Chandrachud, discussed the possibility of legalizing civil unions for gay couples but were overruled.
Ravindra Bhat, one of the three who voted against civil unions, said, “The idea of marriage is not a fundamental right.”
Bhat did, however, say that queer couples should be allowed to commit to one another “in whichever way they wish within the social realm.”
LGBTQ Community Left Emotional
LGBTQ community members were overcome with emotion, leaving the court after the decision.
Many had hoped that marriage would be legalized for same-sex couples, or at least “direct the government” to legalize it, explained Uday Raj Anand. He was in attendance with his partner.
Being Gay is “Natural,” Says Chandrachud
While marriage is out of the question for now, the court did acknowledge the struggles that queer couples face in India. Chandrachud also said that being gay is a “natural phenomenon.”
A Silver Lining
Some activists in attendance acknowledged that the verdict was disappointing but had its positives.
One attendee, Pranav Grover, said the court was focused on “keeping both parties happy,” and wanted to stay positive.
Education Shared With Legislators
Suvir Saran, a celebrity chef, and LGBTQ community member, embraced the fact that the Supreme Court took the opportunity to “[educate] the legislators and the citizens about homosexuality.”
Future Uncertain for the Queer Community
Once parliament takes on the issue, more will be known about the future of the LGBTQ community in India.
For now, millions wait to see the results of the panel that will review the many ways in which LGBTQ Indians are discriminated against.
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