The Indian government has filed a submission to the Supreme Court seeking to reject petitions to legalise same-sex marriage.
These pleas, which have been filed by LGBT couples, challenge the existing legal framework on the matter.
A queer activist and lawyer Rohin Bhatt weighed in on the row and said: “We live in times when the state has chosen to regulate intimacy— we have seen the state regulate interfaith, and even intercaste relationships. So, this comes as no surprise. The government’s stand reflects its past policies.
“The government has a mandate which has not been seen in the past 30 years. They have the numbers. The legislature has the competence. What is needed is the political will which the government lacks.”
On Tuesday, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) expressed its stance on same-sex marriage amidst the ongoing national discussion.
According to the organisation, marriage is considered a ‘Sanskar’ in Hindu life that serves a social purpose rather than being solely for pleasure or contractual benefits, in line with the views of the Centre.
Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalised homosexuality, but it was decriminalised by the Indian Supreme Court in 2018.
When the government previously made pivotal decisions like recognising same-sex relationships for the purpose of inheritance rights and the issuance of passports with the option of a “third gender” category for transgender individuals it was believed that they will soon legalise same-sex marriage.
Thus, this new development has come as a shock to the LGBT community.
In an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court, the Centre clarified that although same-sex individuals are no longer criminalised for living together as partners, this does not align with the traditional Indian family model consisting of a husband, wife, and children.
The Centre argued that exceptions to the right to life and liberty under Article 21 can be made in the interest of legitimate state concerns.
The Centre further contended that the recognition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman is crucially linked to the acceptance of the diverse institution of marriage and the Indian society’s values and culture, which have been established by the competent legislature.
“There is an intelligible differentia (normative basis) which distinguishes those within the classification (heterosexual couples) from those left out (same-sex couples).
“This classification has a rational relation with the object sought to be achieved (ensuring social stability via recognition of marriages),” the government said as reported by Asia News International (ANI).
A five-judge panel will be hearing the pleas regarding the case on April 18.