The ongoing debate on the legality of same-sex marriage in India is a contentious topic and has been a subject of intense debate and discussion for decades, sparking polarized views among the population. The question of whether same-sex couples should be granted legal recognition of their union has been a focal point of this debate, with arguments on both sides ranging from legal and administrative concerns to cultural and societal issues.
It is noteworthy that India has made significant progress in advancing LGBTQ+ rights in recent years, with the landmark 2018 Supreme Court verdict in the Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India case decriminalising consensual homosexual acts. This overruled the 2013 ruling in the Suresh Kumar Koushal v. Naz Foundation case, which had upheld the law under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as constitutionality valid. This landmark decision was seen as a positive step in the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights in India, but the fight for same-sex marriage remains a legal and societal challenge. The ongoing legal battle in the Supreme Court of India underscores the need for more comprehensive legal reform to protect the rights of all members of the LGBTQ+ community.
From a legal perspective, the legalization of same-sex marriage would require significant legal and administrative reforms to ensure that it is implemented effectively. This would include changes to existing laws related to marriage, adoption, inheritance, and property rights. Furthermore, the implementation of same-sex marriage would require comprehensive public education campaigns to raise awareness and promote acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals and their families. These campaigns would be necessary to help overcome cultural and societal biases that have historically discriminated against the LGBTQ+ community in India.
Critics of same-sex marriage in India raise concerns that legalising same-sex marriage would clash with deeply ingrained traditional values and religious beliefs, which are seen as the bedrock of Indian society. They argue that marriage is a sacred institution that has always been exclusively reserved for the union of a man and a woman. Any deviation from this norm could undermine the very foundation of society, according to these critics. Some critics also suggest that if same-sex marriage were legalised, it could set a precedent for other non-traditional relationships to be recognized, which could have far-reaching consequences for the socio-cultural fabric of India. Additionally, some critics contend that legalising same-sex marriage could lead to the breakdown of the family unit, which is viewed as a fundamental building block of Indian society.
Proponents of same-sex marriage, on the other hand, argue that it is a fundamental human right and that denying it violates the principles of equality and non-discrimination enshrined in the Indian Constitution. They assert that traditional values and religious beliefs should not be used to deprive a particular group of individuals of their fundamental human rights and dignity. Furthermore, they contend that legalizing same-sex marriage would not undermine the institution of marriage or the traditional family unit and would rather expand it to include more individuals and relationships. They argue that recognizing same-sex marriage is a matter of civil rights and social justice. India is a diverse country with a complex cultural and religious landscape, and it is important to acknowledge that there are differing viewpoints and beliefs on the issue of same-sex marriage. However, it is essential to ensure that the human rights of all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, are protected under the law.
In conclusion, while the issue of same-sex marriage in India remains controversial, it is crucial that the rights and dignity of all individuals are respected and protected. The issue of same-sex marriage in India is undoubtedly a complex and divisive issue that reflects the challenges and opportunities of a rapidly changing society. While there are valid concerns and arguments on both sides, it is essential to prioritize the human rights and dignity of all individuals, including those in the LGBTQ+ community. India has made progress in advancing LGBTQ+ rights, but legal and societal reforms are needed to ensure that all individuals can live their lives openly and without fear of discrimination or persecution.
(The author is Advocate
and writer, currently pursuing LLM from Banaras Hindu