India’s Supreme Court starts landmark same-sex marriage hearing

New Delhi, Apr 18 (EFE).- India’s Supreme Court began to hear the arguments of the dozens of petitions from LGBTQ activists calling for the legalization of same-sex marriages on Tuesday amid the government’s vehement opposition.

“We need not reinvent the wheel,” senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi told a constitutional bench made up of five senior judges presided over by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud.

“The LGBTQ should have a right to a life of dignity and to the institution of marriage and family which is available to others,” Rohatgi added.

The Supreme Court has the task of examining several petitions from same-sex couples seeking the legalization of their marriages.

The petitions come five years after the court struck down a 150-year-old law from India’s colonial past under British rule that punished “unnatural offences” (gay sex) and criminalized same-sex relationships with jail sentences.

“We want privacy in our homes and not face stigma in public places,” Rohatgi continued.

“We want a declaration that we have a right to marry, that the right will be recognized by the State and will be registered under the Special Marriage Act. Once that happens, society will accept us. The stigma will only go once the state recognizes it,” the senior advocate said.

The Indian government has expressed its opposition to the collective lawsuit and has said that it should be the Indian parliament that decides on the legality of same-sex marriages.

Speaking on behalf of the government, Attorney General Tushar Mehta argued that this was not an issue to be debated by the constitutional court but rather parliamentarians.

“None of us know what a farmer in south India thinks or a businessman thinks in North India,” Mehta claimed

Apart from questioning the validity of the hearing, the Indian government has argued that a marriage should be the union between a man and a woman.

“Societal acceptance of any relationship is never dependent on either the legislation or judgment. The legislative intent of the legislature throughout has been a relationship between a biological man and a biological female,” Mehta said.

But the presiding judge, who was part of the bench that issued the historic verdict decriminalizing homosexuality, retorted:

“You are making the assumption that the notion of male and female is absolute. There is no absolution concept of biological man and woman. It is not just what your genitals are. It is far more complex.”

The Supreme Court has not yet announced a date for ts verdict on same-sex marriages.

The petitions reached the Supreme Court after going through several lower courts and have sparked much anticipation and media attention in India. EFE


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