SC Rules No Unqualified Right to Marriage for LGBTQIA+ Community; Legal Status Through Enacted Law

Rozana Spokesman

News, Nation

Constitution Bench Emphasizes Need for Legal Recognition, Cites Parliament's Role in Special Marriage Act

The Supreme Court of India

NEW-DELHI: In a significant ruling, a five-judge Supreme Court Constitution bench has declared that LGBTQIA+ couples do not possess an absolute right to marriage. The bench maintained that conferring legal status to civil unions must be through enacted law and cannot be unqualified.

The Bench, featuring Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, S Ravindra Bhat, Hima Kohli, and PS Narasimha, delivered this majority verdict, a culmination of hearings that began on April 18. The order was reserved on May 11 after extensive arguments from all sides.

In this landmark judgment, the court clarified that LGBTQIA+ individuals still retain the right to form relationships despite the absence of an unqualified right to marriage. The judgment particularly focused on the need for legal recognition, underlining the essential role of enacted laws.

Chief Justice Chandrachud emphasized the importance of preventing discrimination against the Queer community and the need to sensitize the public about queer rights. He advocated for establishing hotlines and safe houses for queer couples, underscoring the requirement for the government to ensure the protection of intersex children and the prevention of any forced hormonal therapy.

However, Justice Ravindra Bhat and Justice Narasimha disagreed with the CJI on several aspects of the judgment. Justice Bhat noted that while LGBTQIA+ individuals possess the right to a relationship, there is no unqualified right to marry. He argued that legal recognition of unions should be legislated, and the court cannot unilaterally create a legal framework for queer couples. The court directed the Union Government to form a committee to assess the rights and entitlements of individuals in queer unions.

This Ruling carries immense implications for the LGBTQIA+ community in India, emphasizing the importance of legal recognition while signaling the necessity of laws to protect their rights and relationships. The ball is now in the court of the legislature to address this vital issue.