India is currently abuzz with discussions surrounding same-sex marriage, as the country's highest
court, the Indian Supreme Court, hears arguments from 18 same-sex couples seeking a change in the law to allow legal recognition of same-sex marriages in India. The proceedings, which commenced in April this year, has sparked intense debates in a society known for its deep-rooted religious values and where same-sex relationships were only decriminalised in 2018. Today, India is believed to be home to the world's largest LGBT+ community.
The fact that this contentious issue has reached the highest court has raised eyebrows, especially
considering the Indian government's strong opposition to the matter. The government contends that the court does not have jurisdiction in such personal law matters, which fall under the purview of the government alone. However, the judges have limited themselves to exploring the possibility of amending the existing law, The Special Marriage Act of 1954, which would open the door to
recognizing LGBTQ+ unions.
The 1954 Act permits marriages between individuals from different castes and religions, making it a complex set of laws that sometimes intersect with religious personal laws. The case before the Supreme Court seeks to determine if the Act can include LGBTQ+ individuals.
Among those seeking legal recognition, 18 couples have petitioned the Supreme Court to legalise same-sex marriage. For example, Abhay and Supriyo, a couple from India, shared their perspective with Sky News, emphasizing the importance of marriage in Indian culture and society. They also expressed hope that legalising same-sex marriage would provide much-needed protection to LGBTQ+ people who currently face the fear of persecution and family pressure.
On the government's side, Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor General - India's second-highest legal advisor- represents the government during the Supreme Court hearings. While the government may consider addressing some of the challenges faced by same-sex couples, Mr. Mehta has asserted that they would not alter the existing law or grant legal recognition to same-sex unions.
As the legal proceedings continue, the Supreme Court judges have yet to reach a final verdict on the matter, leaving the entire nation waiting in anticipation for the landmark decision that could potentially reshape the social and legal landscape for the LGBTQ+ community in India.