India’s Supreme Court has refused to legalise same-sex marriages, leaving the matter to parliament.


The decision was made by a majority of judges on the bench, with the Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud, stating that the issue of marriage law falls within the jurisdiction of parliament. This ruling comes after the court had decriminalized gay sex in a landmark 2018 decision.

The decision disappointed many LGBTQ+ individuals, like Abhijit Ghosh, a gay man who had kept his relationship secret for over five years. Legalizing same-sex marriage would have allowed him to disclose his relationship to his family and enjoy the legal benefits of matrimony, such as adoption, insurance, and inheritance rights. Currently, without legal recognition, these rights are not available to LGBTQ+ couples in India.

Marriage in India is governed by religious-specific family laws, and the court was considering whether the Special Marriage Act of 1954, which allows inter-caste and inter-religious marriages, could be expanded to include same-sex unions. While the court did not legalize same-sex marriage, it did recognize the duty to acknowledge LGBTQ+ relationships and protect them from discrimination, emphasizing the importance of equality.

LGBTQ+ activists like Ankit Bhuptani found some positive aspects in the ruling, including the non-discrimination clause and efforts to provide shelter and recognize diverse gender identities. However, the road ahead for legalizing same-sex marriage in India is challenging, as the government opposes it, calling it “urban elitist views.” They believe such marriages do not align with the traditional Indian family unit concept.

Though legalizing same-sex marriage currently faces parliamentary limitations, the court’s request for a central government committee to examine entitlements for same-sex couples offers hope for future progress. The willingness of parliamentarians to recognize same-sex marriage remains uncertain, but the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, respect, and dignity continues in India. This decision marks another significant step in the ongoing struggle for LGBTQ+ rights in the country.