The United States has urged India to work towards providing equal legal protection to same-sex couples after India’s Supreme Court declined to legalize same-sex marriage, leaving the matter in the hands of the parliament. The U.S. State Department voiced its support for marriage equality worldwide and emphasized its close monitoring of the government’s actions and the reactions of civil society following the court’s ruling.
The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision was a source of disappointment for India’s large LGBTQ community, five years after the court lifted a colonial-era ban on gay sex. The court upheld the government’s view that same-sex marriage does not align with the traditional Indian family unit concept, comprising a husband, a wife, and children.
The U.S. State Department spokesperson emphasized their commitment to advocating for marriage equality and the protection of LGBTQI+ individuals against discrimination. They encouraged the Indian government to take the necessary steps to provide equal legal protection to same-sex couples.
Chief Justice of India, D.Y. Chandrachud, clarified that the Supreme Court’s role is to interpret and give effect to existing laws, rather than creating new ones. While the court did not legalize same-sex marriage, the door remains open for the parliament to address the issue.
India’s decision, reflective of its social and political climate, highlights that Asia, as a continent, still lags behind the Western world in accepting same-sex marriage. The U.S. State Department emphasized that it regularly engages with the Indian government on human rights concerns, including those related to LGBTQ rights, in addition to religious minorities, journalists, and dissidents. New Delhi denies the existence of such discrimination, though State Department reports have previously raised these concerns.