Legal Limbo: The Battle for Equality Continues
In a pivotal legal development, the Supreme Court of India has opted not to officially recognise same-sex marriages, asserting that this matter falls within the jurisdiction of the legislative branch rather than the judiciary.
Starting in April 2023, this case comprised twenty petitions challenging marriage laws for not recognizing non-heterosexual unions in India. A 5-judge bench, composed of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justices S Ravindra Bhat, SK Kaul, Hima Kohli, and PS Narasimha, heard the case and announced the verdict on October 17th. The Bench unanimously agreed that there is no fundamental right to marriage. Notably, they also chose not to invalidate the Special Marriage Act and Foreign Marriage Act for their failure to acknowledge same-sex marriages. However, the Court did rule that transgender individuals in heterosexual relationships have the right to marry under existing laws or personal laws.
CJI Chandrachud and Justice Kaul affirmed the right of queer couples to adopt, underlining the importance of recognising diverse forms of partnership and love. On the other hand, Justices Bhat, Kohli, and Narasimha upheld the CARA regulations, which currently exclude queer and unmarried couples from adoption.
The Supreme Court also noted the proposal from the Center to establish a committee for examining the challenges same-sex couples encounter.
The decision of the court to rule against legalising same-sex marriage, civil unions, and adoption for queer people has dealt as a significant setback to the LGBTQ community in India, as the fight for equal rights continues to persist.