Supriya Chakrabarty And Abhay Dhang Vs Union Of India

Started – 25 November 2022

Decided – 17 October 2023

Facts :

The same-sex weddings’ legal recognition in India is at the center of the Supriyo v. Union of India (UOI) dispute. It is a significant turning point in the legal and social history of the nation, especially in light of the Supreme Court’s historic 2018 ruling to overturn Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and decriminalize consensual homosexual activity.

The legal battle began in 2020 when a same-sex couple, under the pseudonyms Kavita and Ankita Supriyo, petitioned the Delhi High Court to recognize their marriage under Indian law. The couple’s plea highlighted the denial of marriage rights to same-sex partners, arguing that it contravened their fundamental rights as enshrined in the Indian Constitution. Their case ignited public discourse and galvanized LGBTQ+ activists, prompting a closer examination of India’s legal framework concerning marriage equality.

The fundamental issue of equality before the law is central to the Supriyo case. The petitioners argue that depriving same-sex couples of their ability to marry violates their fundamental rights to equality, dignity, and nondiscrimination, as well as perpetuating discrimination. They contend that regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, everyone should have the ability to marry as it is a fundamental human right.

The case also underscores the evolving understanding of LGBTQ+ rights in India. Despite the decriminalization of homosexual activity, same-sex couples continue to face legal barriers to formalize their relationships through marriage. The Supriyo case reflects a broader push for comprehensive legal recognition and protection of LGBTQ+ rights, encompassing issues such as marriage, adoption, inheritance, and employment discrimination.

Legal experts have weighed in on both sides of the debate. Supporters of marriage equality argue that denying same-sex couples the right to marry perpetuates stigma and marginalization, depriving them of crucial legal protections and social recognition. They emphasize the importance of recognizing diverse forms of family and relationships in a pluralistic society like India.

Conversely, those who oppose marriage equality bring up issues related to customs, faith, and social mores. They contend that as marriage has historically been defined as a partnership between a man and a woman, it would be detrimental to conventional family structures and values to redefine it to include same-sex couples. Some people oppose marriage equality on the basis of religious objections to homosexuality.

The Supriyo case has implications beyond the realm of law, touching on broader social and cultural dynamics. It has sparked conversations about LGBTQ+ rights, identity, and acceptance in Indian society. While progress has been made in recent years, including increased visibility and representation of LGBTQ+ individuals, challenges persist, particularly in conservative and traditionalist segments of society.

The outcome of the Supriyo case is eagerly awaited by LGBTQ+ communities, legal experts, and advocates across India. A favorable ruling could pave the way for greater recognition and protection of LGBTQ+ rights, setting a precedent for future legal battles and policy reforms. Conversely, a negative ruling could reinforce existing inequalities and barriers faced by same-sex couples, underscoring the ongoing struggle for equality and justice.

Putting it briefly, the case of Union of India v. Supriyo is an important milestone that India has reached on its way to legal recognition of same-sex marriages as well as LGBTQ+ rights. It points out how intricate it can be to maneuver through different societal norms-laws set up within a certain culture system-ways of doing things. Ultimately, this case is a wakeup call for us all on why it’s so important to safeguard the basic rights and equalities of everybody no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Main Issue Raised :

As on 2022, India did not legally recognize same-sex marriages. Within India, the matter regarding same-sex marriages has been a controversial and disputable issue while adopting divergent views. The Indian Penal Code’s law# 377 has primarily shaped the legal regime on which homosexual rights were criminalized as “unnatural offences” before the partial annulment of this by Supreme Court of India in 2018 within *Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India* case

While the decriminalization of homosexuality was a significant step forward for LGBTQ+ rights in India, it did not directly address the issue of same-sex marriage. The legal recognition of same-sex marriage involves complex legal, social, and cultural considerations. Advocates for same-sex marriage argue for equal rights and recognition under the law, including the right to marry and the associated legal benefits and protections.

However, there are also opponents of same-sex marriage in India, often citing cultural or religious reasons. Traditional views on marriage and family structures play a significant role in shaping public opinion and legal discussions on this issue.

Despite the absence of legal recognition, there have been efforts to advocate for same-sex marriage rights in India. Civil society organizations, LGBTQ+ activists, and legal experts have been working to raise awareness, challenge discriminatory laws, and push for legislative change.

In recent years, there have been some positive developments at the state level. For example, the state of Kerala introduced a transgender policy in 2015 that recognized the rights of transgender individuals, including the right to marriage. Additionally, the state of Kerala also saw its first legally recognized same-sex marriage in 2020 when a transgender man married a cisgender woman.

Overall,The same-sex marriage matter in India is complex and multifaceted; legal, social, and cultural considerations are involved. Even as there have been notable developments on the front of LGBTQ+ rights such as decriminalizing homosexuality, the issue of recognizing same-sex marriage is still a controversial one within Indian society.

Contention :

The key point was centred on legal acceptance of homosexual marriages form of marriage. They claimed that not allowing gays or lesbians to marry amounted to breach of their constitutional rights regarding equality and discrimination. They also maintained that the government only keeps offering stigma over homosexual people’s lives by not allowing them to be part of married persons. In this way, they are deprived of some benefits which are allowed for those in heterosexual marriages such as spousal pensions or adoption possibilities.

Furthermore, proponents of same-sex marriage highlighted the evolving global discourse on LGBTQ+ rights and the trend towards legalising same-sex marriage in many countries. They emphasised the need for India to uphold principles of equality and justice by recognising the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals to marry.

In contrast, opponents of same-sex marriage often invoked religious or traditional beliefs, arguing against any deviation from the conventional understanding of marriage as between a man and a woman.

Thus, the case encapsulated a broader societal debate between advocates for LGBTQ+ rights and those adhering to traditional or conservative viewpoints, with profound implications for legal, social, and human rights in India.

Defects of law:

The boundaries in the law relating to same-sex marriage were numerous reflecting a wider problem society faced in recognizing and protecting the welfare of gays. For example, the law did not recognize marriage between partners of the same gender leading to denial of fundamental rights so beneficial to normal couples such as inheritance rights, access to spouse medical covers among others.

Furthermore, the lack of legal framework for same-sex marriage perpetuated discrimination and social stigma against LGBTQ+ individuals, reinforcing their marginalization within society. It created a legal vacuum wherein same-sex couples faced numerous hurdles in areas such as adoption, property ownership, and immigration rights, which are typically facilitated through marriage.

It additionally undermined the principles of equality and non-discrimination enshrined in the Indian Constitution to not allow same-sex marriage legally. It practically sustained injustice and inequality since it did not respect the basic rights and dignity of LGBTQ+ persons through denying them the chance to

marry.

Overall, the defects in the law highlighted by the Supriyo case underscored the urgent need for legislative reform to ensure equal rights and protections for all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. This necessitated amendments to existing marriage laws to include provisions for same-sex marriage or the enactment of entirely new legislation explicitly recognizing and safeguarding the rights of LGBTQ+ couples.

Conclusion :

Supriyo vs. Union of India was seen as a critical case on gay marriage where the verdict would decide everything. When the court judges ruled out that same-sex marriages should be allowed by law enforcers, then this could possibly make what may be termed like breaking new grounds in so far as recognizing LGBT marriages as well as giving them rights they deserve just like their straight counterparts do; it would be a great stride towards equality and non-discrimination for Indian society at large”.

Conversely, if the court upheld the existing laws that do not recognize same-sex marriage, it would mean a continuation of the status quo, wherein same-sex couples are denied the right to marry and the legal benefits associated with marriage. Such a ruling could be seen as a setback for LGBTQ+ rights in India, highlighting the need for continued advocacy and potential legislative reform in the future.

Ultimately, the conclusion of the Supriyo case would have far-reaching implications for the legal recognition and protection of same-sex relationships in India, shaping the landscape of LGBTQ+ rights and social equality in the country.

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Sudbury, and J. Other Kinds of Dreams: Black Women’s O rganisations and the politics of Transformation. University of California Press, 2005.

  • Ishita Jain
  • Prayaas International School