SC seeks Centre’s reply on pleas to recognise same-sex marriages

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday sought a response from the Centre to two pleas seeking transfer to the apex court the petitions pending in the Delhi High Court seeking directions to recognise same-sex marriages.

The high court bench instructed its registry to forward the case files directly to the Supreme Court on January 7 in response to the apex court's directive.

A group of petitions by same-sex couples asking for recognition of their weddings under the Special Marriage Act, the Hindu Marriage Act, and the Foreign Marriage Act are currently being heard by the high court.
The high court has received eight petitions about the matter.

In a ground-breaking unanimous ruling issued on September 6, 2018, the top court's five-judge Constitution bench held that consensual sex between adult homosexuals or heterosexuals in private settings is not illegal and invalidated a portion of a British-era penal code that had criminalised it on the grounds that it violated the constitutional right to equality and dignity.

The top court decriminalised consensual homosexual activities, but petitioner Abhijit Iyer Mitra and three others argued that same-sex marriages are still impossible. As a result, they asked for a declaration recognising such marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act and the Special Marriage Act.

Two women who wanted to get married under the Special Marriage Act filed a different petition, arguing against the statute's provisions to the degree that same-sex unions are not permitted. The other was submitted by two men who wed in the US but had their marriage not recognised by the Foreign Marriage Act.

The Centre has opposed same-sex marriage, claiming that in India, marriage is an institution between a biological man and a woman rather than just a union of two people, and that judicial intervention will "completely wreak with the delicate balance of personal laws."

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