New Delhi: The Supreme Court, in a significant decision, a five judge Supreme Court Constitution bench has refused to give marriage equality rights to LGBTQIA+ community.
Court has also rejected the demand for granting adoption rights to gay couples. The division within the five-judge bench has underscored the complexity of the issue.
Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice SK Kaul were in favor of extending adoption rights to gay couples. However, their stance was overruled by the majority opinion of three judges, namely Justice PS Narasimha, Justice Hima Kohli, and Justice Ravindra Bhatt, who firmly opposed the notion.
Justice Bhatt, while presenting the majority decision, emphasized the necessity for a legal framework governing civil unions to safeguard any associated legal rights. He specifically noted that while transsexual individuals in homosexual relationships should have the right to marry, this cannot automatically translate to adoption rights for gay couples.
The bench unanimously agreed that the prerogative to grant marriage rights to gay individuals falls within the legislative purview of the Parliament and cannot be determined by judicial fiat.
CJI Chandrachud emphasized the possibility for unmarried as well as queer couples to jointly adopt a child, a proposition that did not find consensus within the bench.
One key observation from the court was that the Constitution does not explicitly guarantee the right to marriage as a fundamental right. However, in a positive development, the suggestion put forth by SG Tushar Mehta to form a committee, led by the Cabinet Secretary, to explore extending various rights and privileges to same-sex couples, such as ration cards and pension, has been accepted.
#WATCH | Supreme Court refuses to give marriage equality rights to the LGBTQIA+ community in India— ANI (@ANI) October 17, 2023
One of the petitioners and LGBTQIA+ rights activist Harish Iyer says, Though at the end, the verdict was not in our favour but so many observations(by Supreme Court) made were in… pic.twitter.com/sP96khIq3l
Furthermore, the court maintained that neither the Special Marriage Act nor the Foreign Marriage Act can be constitutionally challenged, solidifying the legal position on these fronts. This decision has far-reaching implications and has rekindled the debate surrounding LGBTQ+ rights in the country.