Same-sex marriage refers to the legal union of two individuals of the same
gender, granting them the same legal rights and privileges as opposite-sex
couples. However, the recognition and acceptance of same-sex marriage vary
significantly across different countries and cultures.
In India, same-sex marriage is not legally recognized, and homosexuality was
only decriminalized in 2018. The country's long history of social and cultural
resistance towards LGBTQ+ rights has contributed to the lack of progress in
legalizing same-sex marriage.
This article aims to explore the legal and social status of same-sex marriage in
India and compare it with other countries. We will examine the social and
cultural factors that have shaped attitudes towards same-sex marriage in India
and analyze the potential impact of legalizing same-sex marriage on society.
Furthermore, we will discuss the current status of the legal battle for same-sex
marriage in India, including the government's opposition and the ongoing
struggle for LGBTQ+ rights in the country.
The Legal Landscape for Same-Sex Marriage in India
India's legal landscape for same-sex marriage is complex and uncertain. While
the Indian Constitution guarantees equal rights and non-discrimination based on
gender, it does not explicitly recognize same-sex relationships. The Hindu
Marriage Act defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and the
Special Marriage Act does not extend to same-sex couples.
The legal framework for same-sex marriage is based on the Indian Penal Code,
which criminalized homosexuality until 2018 when the Indian Supreme Court
decriminalized same-sex relations in the landmark Navtej Singh Johar case.
While the judgment was a significant victory for LGBT rights activists in India,
it did not legalize same-sex marriage.
However, legal scholars argue that the Indian Constitution recognizes the right
to equality, non-discrimination, and privacy, which could include the right to
marry a person of one's choice, regardless of gender which also has precedence
in many cases. Despite this, the Indian government has yet to take steps to
legalize same-sex marriage or provide legal recognition to same-sex couples.
Recent years have seen several legal battles and activism efforts aimed at
legalizing same-sex marriage in India. The Navtej Singh Johar case was one of
the most prominent, in which a group of LGBT activists challenged the
constitutionality of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalized
same-sex relations. The Supreme Court's landmark judgment struck down the
provision and held that sexual orientation was an integral part of the right to
privacy and personal liberty under the Indian Constitution.
However, same-sex marriage remains unrecognised in India, and LGBT individuals
continue to face discrimination and stigma in various aspects of their lives.
Some states, such as Kerala and Goa, have taken steps to recognize and protect
the rights of LGBT individuals, but there is still a long way to go in achieving
full legal and social equality.
Despite the legal challenges, ongoing efforts to legalize same-sex marriage
continue in India. Several high-profile cases have been filed in courts across
India, arguing that the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples violates
their fundamental rights. These cases represent a significant step towards
achieving legal recognition and protection for same-sex couples in India.
Comparison with Other Countries
The legal and social acceptance of same-sex marriage varies widely across the
globe. Some countries legalized it early on, while others have only recently
recognized it. In this section, we will explore the laws and policies related to
same-sex marriage in selected countries and examine the cultural and historical
factors that have influenced their legal and social acceptance.
In the United States, "same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide by a landmark
decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges
The Supreme Court ruled on June 26, 2015, that the Fourteenth Amendment of the
US Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry, and that states
cannot ban same-sex marriage or refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed
in other states". Prior to this decision, some states had already legalized
same-sex marriage through state legislation, court rulings, or ballot
Similarly, in the United Kingdom, same-sex marriage was legalized by the
Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013. This act amended the Marriage Act
1949 and the Civil Partnership Act 2004, allowing same-sex couples to
legally marry in England and Wales. The Scottish Parliament also passed a
similar law, the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014, which
legalized same-sex marriage in Scotland.
The legalization of same-sex marriage in both the US and the UK can be
attributed to a combination of cultural, historical, and legal factors. The LGBT
rights movement in both countries gained momentum in the 1960s and 1970s, with
the formation of organizations dedicated to advocating for equal rights and
protections for the LGBT community.
In the US, the movement was further galvanized by the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s
and 1990s, which led to increased activism and visibility for the LGBT
community. Additionally, the US has a strong tradition of individual rights and
freedoms, which was invoked in support of same-sex marriage.
Similarly, in the UK, the introduction of civil partnerships in 2005 paved the
way for same-sex marriage, as it demonstrated that legal recognition of same-sex
relationships was possible and desirable. The UK also has a strong tradition of
democracy and human rights, which has been invoked in support of same-sex
Overall, the legalization of same-sex marriage in both countries was the result
of years of activism and advocacy by the LGBT community, as well as legal and
cultural changes that gradually led to greater acceptance and recognition of
Social Attitudes and Cultural Factors
In India, the attitudes towards same-sex marriage are influenced by a complex
interplay of cultural, religious, and political factors. Despite some progress,
the general population still lacks support for same-sex marriage, which can be
attributed to various cultural and social factors. The traditional view of
marriage as a union between a man and a woman is deeply ingrained in Indian
society, which remains largely patriarchal and conservative. Consequently, many
people view same-sex relationships as immoral, unnatural, and a threat to the
traditional institution of marriage and the family.
Religion also plays a significant role in shaping attitudes towards same-sex
marriage in India. Although Hinduism, the dominant religion in India, does not
have a clear stance on homosexuality or same-sex marriage, conservative
interpretations of Hindu scriptures often condemn same-sex relationships as
sinful. Similarly, other major religions in India, such as Islam and
Christianity, also consider homosexuality and same-sex marriage to be morally
However, there has been some progress towards greater acceptance of the LGBTQ+
community in India in recent years. The Indian Supreme Court's landmark decision
in 2018 to decriminalize homosexuality by striking down Section 377 of the
Indian Penal Code was widely celebrated as a victory for LGBTQ+ rights in India.
The LGBTQ+ rights movement in India has gained momentum in recent years, with
the establishment of organizations such as the Naz Foundation, the Humsafar
Trust, and the Queer Muslim Project, which work towards creating awareness and
advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, including marriage equality.
Despite this progress, same-sex marriage remains illegal in India, and only 29%
of the Indian population supported it, while 50% were opposed to it, according
to a 2019 survey conducted by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans
and Intersex Association (ILGA). However, younger and more educated
individuals and those living in urban areas showed higher levels of support for
The role of media, education, and public opinion is also important in shaping
attitudes towards same-sex marriage in India. While the Indian media has become
more accepting of LGBTQ+ issues in recent years, there is still a lack of
representation and visibility of LGBTQ+ individuals in mainstream media.
Education is another key factor in changing attitudes towards homosexuality and
same-sex marriage. However, there is currently no comprehensive sex education
curriculum in India, and many schools continue to propagate traditional gender
roles and heteronormative values.
Impact of Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage
Legalizing same-sex marriage in India would require extensive changes to family
laws and could face resistance from those who view it as a threat to traditional
values. There may also be challenges in implementing these changes, such as
ensuring that adoption laws do not discriminate against same-sex couples and
that inheritance laws are amended to include same-sex spouses.
However, the advantages of legalizing same-sex marriage in India would be
substantial. It would grant same-sex couples the same legal rights and
protections as heterosexual couples, including the ability to adopt children,
inherit property, and make medical choices for their partner. It would also
offer social security benefits and permit joint tax filing.
"Legalizing same-sex marriage would also have a positive impact on society by
promoting inclusivity and equality. It would send a message that all people,
regardless of sexual orientation, are entitled to the same legal rights and
protections. This would help to reduce discrimination and marginalization faced
by the LGBTQ+ community, promoting a more accepting and tolerant society."
Legalizing same-sex marriage has already resulted in substantial changes in
family laws in nations such as the United States, Canada, and the United
Kingdom, with same-sex couples having the same legal rights and advantages as
heterosexual couples. Legalizing same-sex marriage in India would have a similar
effect, bringing the country in step with other progressive countries and
fostering more equality and inclusivity.
In conclusion, the legalization of same-sex marriage in India is a complex issue
that is influenced by a range of cultural, social, and legal factors. While
there has been progress in recent years in terms of decriminalization and
recognition of LGBTQ+ rights, there is still a lack of support for same-sex
marriage among the general population.
Legalizing same-sex marriage would have a significant impact on family laws and
would require careful consideration and crafting to ensure that same-sex couples
are not discriminated against. However, it would also provide same-sex couples
with the same legal protections and benefits as heterosexual couples and would
go a long way in ending the discrimination and marginalization faced by the
Currently, there is a case in the Supreme Court regarding the legalization of
same-sex marriage that is being opposed by the government. It remains to be seen
how this case will be resolved; it may result in the Supreme Court issuing
guidelines, as it did in the Vishaka case, which resulted in the passage of
legislation, or it may not, but one thing is certain that ongoing advocacy and
activism will be necessary to achieve full legal recognition and equality for
the LGBTQ+ community in India. The struggle for marriage equality is ongoing,
but with continued efforts, it is possible to achieve a more just and equitable
society for all.
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