LGBT activists fume after India says same-sex marriage not fundamental right

Srinagar, India, Feb 26 (efe-epa).- Outraged LGBT activists on Friday vowed to intensify their rights campaign after the government refused to recognize same-sex marriage because it is incompatible with Indian ethos.

In response to a plea by rights activist, the government Thursday told a Delhi court that matrimonial affairs were governed by religious laws as per faith-based customs that recognize only the union of a man and a woman for a statutory sanction.

“Personal laws recognize only heteronormative marriages. Interference in this would cause havoc with the delicate balance of personal laws,” the government said.

Gay and lesbian rights activists had urged the Delhi High Court to validate marriages between any two persons “neutral to gender identity and sexual orientation” solemnized under the Special Marriage Act.

The government, in an affidavit, said gay and lesbian people “cannot claim a fundamental right for same sex marriage being recognized under the laws of the country”.

The government’s standing has left people belonging to the sexual minority community and equal rights activists fuming.

“We are deeply disappointed with the government’s affidavit because we had hoped that it would learn from the judgment of the Supreme Court and understand that LGBT people are the citizens of the country,” Arvind Narrain, a lawyer and writer in Bengaluru, told EFE.

According to Narrain, a well-known activist who has been campaigning for the rights of the marginalized and discriminated, the government has shown its “inability to be sensitive to the concerns of the present or to the needs of the contemporary Indian citizens.”

He said the government’s position indicated that it was against the rights of all minorities.

“It is a statement of hatred, animosity and disgust towards LBGT people like they treat people from every other minority grouping in India,” he said.

Praful Baweja, a co-founder of ‘6 Degrees’, a networking platform for the LGBT community, said that the government had left no ambiguity on its stand.

“It doesn’t defeat us. It has made our resolve stronger,” Baweja said, adding their task now was “to increase the public support,” Baweja told EFE.

“We need more intense campaign,” he stressed.

The activists said that whatever had been granted to the Indian LGBT community in the past was because of court interventions and the government had only followed the instructions.

For example, being gay was a criminal offense in India under archaic British law.

The country’s top court in 2018 struck down Article Section 377, a hangover from the period of British colonial rule that banned same-sex sexual relations.

But rights activists say that discrimination remains and progress has been slow in the world’s second-most populous nation that has no official estimate of the number of gay or transgender people.

India’s Supreme Court recognized “transgender” as a third sex in the 2014 ruling and in July 2019, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced a bill to enshrine the rights of trans people.

The bill passed in the lower house of parliament and is now in the upper house. EFE-EPA


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