A pivotal Supreme Court case currently being considered in India could lead to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the nation.
The plaintiffs, four gay couples, are taking on a government that has been hostile to the idea of marriage equality in the past. Leaked documents acquired by Reuters show that the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been trying to convince the court to decide not to allow LGBTQ+ couples the right to marry.
According to Reuters, the Ministry of Law has argued that “Living together as partners and having sexual relationship by same sex individuals… is not comparable with the Indian family unit concept of a husband, a wife and children” and the court cannot “change the entire legislative policy of the country deeply embedded in religious and societal norms.”
Uday Raj Anand, one of the people pursuing the case, told the news outlet that the group has “received wide support from people from all walks of life, and it does not seem to me that most Indians feel injured by the thought of some loving families getting legal rights.”
Another plaintiff, Supriyo Chakraborty, told Gay Times that Indian society is ready for this.
“People are asking questions and would like to know more about the queer community, things weren’t like this when I was a teenager, or in my early 20s. Marriage equality now seems like the logical next step.”
While many activists believe marriage equality is an important step toward ending discrimination, others feel it wouldn’t have as big of an impact.
One trans activist said marriage equality was “at the bottom of my priority list” because “transgender people like me are fighting for the right to exist.”
Another trans woman, Jhisha, told Gay Times. she has “dreamed about” getting married since she was a kid and can’t wait for the day it becomes legal to do so.
“To be out to all of the world, and marry and live as a trans woman almost seems like an unreachable dream.”
In 2018, the Indian Supreme Court made history when it ruled that homosexuality would no longer be considered a criminal offense.
A colonial law, section 377, banned “carnal intercourse against the order of nature,” and had been interpreted to include sex between two people of the same sex. It carried a maximum penalty of ten years in prison.
The unanimous Supreme Court decision went beyond ending the country’s sodomy ban. “Any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates fundamental rights,” wrote Chief Justice Dipak Misra.
“Social morality cannot be used to violate the fundamental rights of even a single individual,” he continued. “Constitutional morality cannot be martyred at the altar of social morality.”
But the court said that the ruling does not necessarily extend to matters like marriage.