In a recent legal development, the Supreme Court of India has decided not to legalize same-sex marriage, leaving the matter to be addressed by the Indian parliament. This decision aligns with the stance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, asserting that the legislature is the appropriate platform to deliberate on the issue.
The Response from the United States:
The U.S. State Department has expressed its support for marriage equality globally and has been closely monitoring the situation following the Supreme Court’s ruling. A State Department spokesperson stated, “We are closely monitoring follow-up steps from the government and reactions from civil society on this issue following the court’s ruling.”
Disappointment for the LGBTQ Community:
The unanimous decision by a five-judge bench comes as a significant disappointment to the large LGBTQ community in India. This decision comes five years after the court abolished a colonial-era ban on gay sex. The ruling, which leaves the issue in the hands of the parliament, underscores the challenges faced by the LGBTQ community in their pursuit of equal rights.
India’s Government Position:
The ruling aligns with the stance of Prime Minister Modi’s administration, specifically the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which opposed petitions to the court. The government argued that same-sex marriage does not align with the traditional Indian family unit concept of a husband, a wife, and children.
The U.S. State Department’s Call for Equal Legal Protection:
The U.S. State Department, in line with its support for marriage equality and protection of LGBTQI+ persons against discrimination, has urged the Indian government to take the necessary steps to offer equal legal protection to same-sex couples. The State Department emphasizes its ongoing commitment to this cause.
Chief Justice’s Interpretation:
Chief Justice of India, D.Y. Chandrachud, emphasized that the Supreme Court’s role is to interpret and give effect to existing laws, not to create new legislation. This perspective underlines the importance of legislative action in addressing the issue of same-sex marriage in India.
The Global Context:
In a broader context, Asia, a continent where conservative values continue to hold sway in many nations, lags behind the Western world in accepting same-sex marriage.
U.S. Engagement on Human Rights:
The U.S. State Department’s engagement with the Indian government extends to human rights concerns, including matters related to LGBT rights. Reports have previously raised concerns over the treatment of religious minorities, journalists, and dissidents in India, even though New Delhi denies such discrimination.
The Supreme Court’s decision to defer same-sex marriage recognition to the Indian parliament has elicited reactions from the United States, which advocates for equal legal protection and marriage equality. The outcome is a significant moment for India’s LGBTQ community and highlights the ongoing global conversation on LGBTQ rights and marriage equality.