In 2018, India’s top court ruled that homosexual acts between consenting adults was not a crime, but the law still does not permit same-sex marriage in the country.
Now a petition has been filed in the Delhi High Court seeking the acceptance of same-sex marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act. The move to push for same-sex marriage acceptance has been opposed by the government.
The petitioners, Abhijit Iyer Mitra, Gopi Shankar, Giti Thadani, and G Oorvasi said that same-sex couples should have the freedom to marry and have their marriages accepted as same-sex couples don’t have the same privileges and rights as enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.
The petition stated the sexuality of gay people has been recognized by the Supreme Court of India and, therefore, not recognizing the marriage between gay people violates the provisions of the Constitution since the right to marry is a universal right.
The plea said that denying the LGBT community the choice to marry is unfair and discriminatory and treats them as inferior citizens.
The first hearing for the petition in the Delhi High Court was held Sept. 14. The Indian government, represented by Tushar Mehta, the country’s solicitor general, opposed the petition.
“Indian culture doesn’t support the idea of same-sex weddings as such marriages are against the provisions of our society,” Mehta said. “Marriage is sacrosanct between two people and our morals do not accept a marriage between two people of the same sex.”
Mehta also said that under the Hindu Marriage Act, the numerous provisions governing marriages or forbidden relations talk of husband and wife and therefore who would be allotted these roles where a same-sex couple was involved.
A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan asked the petitioners to submit a list of persons aggrieved by the non-registration of same-sex marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act while adjourning the matter for Oct. 21.
The current petition in the Delhi High Court will not affect Christians and Muslims. Even if the amendments are made in the Hindu Marriage Act, as demanded in the petition, it would apply only to Hindus.
The idea of same-sex marriages in India has been opposed by ranking Catholic and Islamic officials.
Bishop Joshua Mar Ignathios, vice-president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, told LiCAS.news the Church does not endorse same-sex marriage.
“The purpose of marriage is not fulfilled in such marriages. Such marriages are also against humanity,” said Bishop Ignathios said who is part of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.
“The Catholic Church does not support homosexuality,” said Bishop Ignathios.
Muslim clerics say Islam clearly and unequivocally mentions that marital relationship is only allowed between a man and woman and any other marital relationships are not acceptable in Islam. They said the Islam recognizes marriage only between a man and a woman and homosexuality is prohibited in traditional Islamic jurisprudence.
Mohammed Arif, chairman of the Centre for Harmony and Peace, told LiCAS.news: “Same-sex marriage, homosexuality and gay culture are all western culture, which are not acceptable in Islam and the Indian society,” he said.
In September 2018 India’s Supreme Court ruled that homosexual acts between consenting adults was not a crime.
At that time the Indian bishops had said in a statement that homosexuality was not ethically acceptable or defensible although it had been decriminalized by the court. Church officials said legal validity did not make the practice morally acceptable.