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Delhi High Court Issues Notice To Seek Centre’s Stand On Same-Sex Marriage. This Is Going To Be A Landmark Hearing

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As much as the rebels inside of us enjoy breaking rules and  indulge in something possibly harmless just for the ‘kick’ of it, be it trying to enter a bar with a fake ID or drink before the age of 21, or drive around the city without a legit license, there remain a few things that we’d like to do without being branded criminals for it. Off the top of my head? Fall in love and marry the person. One would assume that in this day and age, with so much progress, we would at least be able to legalise our status when we decide who to spend our lives with. Which the law says you can do, although only if you’re straight. Meanwhile for the LGBTQ+ Community, the struggle is still ongoing, but by the looks of it, there might be at a turning point. Same sex marriage is now up to be discussed in court.

We say this after the Delhi High Court today sought the Centre’s response on two separate pleas by two same sex couples, one seeking to get married under the Special Marriage Act (SMA) and the other seeking registration of their wedding in the US under the Foreign Marriage Act (FMA). A much awaited response, that will finally decide whether couples from the LGBTQ+ community get to get the stamp of the government and get married or not.

The bench that includes justices RS Endlaw and Asha Menon issued notice to the Centre and the Delhi government seeking their stand on the plea by two women seeking to get married under the SMA, and have posted the matter for further hearing on January 8. Another matter is scheduled to be heard on same date is about the notice that has been issued to the Centre and the Consulate General of India in New York wherein a same sex couple has been denied the right to register their marriage under the FMA. Same sex marriage might take a while to come through, given that we’ve only recently scrapped the archaic Section 377.

Justice Menon said, “We may shed our inhibitions. The laws are gender-neutral. Please try to interpret the law for the citizens of Sanatan Dharma in the country. This is not an adversarial litigation. This is for the right of every citizen of the country.”

Also Read : Menaka Guruswamy And Arundhati Katju, The Lawyers Who Fought To Decriminalise Article 377, Now To Fight For Same Sex Marriage

During the hearing it was established that the bench has no doubts regarding maintainability of the petitions, but added that the concept of marriage emanates from the customary laws which do not recognise same sex marriages. It further also said that there is no concrete or specific definition of marriage under the SMA and FMA, and that people interpret what marriage is basis the customary laws.

Menaka Guruswamy who not only headlined the scrapping of article 377 but is also now appearing for both set of petitioners, said the petitioners are not seeking relief under any customary or religious laws, rather they are seeking that the civil laws – SMA and FMA – which are applicable to all kinds of couples, including inter-caste and inter-faith, be also made applicable to them.

One of the counsels however, representing the central government said that in the 5,000 year old history of Sanatan Dharma such a situation was being faced for the first time. To which the bench replied by saying, “language in the statutes is gender neutral. Please try to interpret the law in the interests of every citizen of the country.”

Meanwhile the two women who have filed the plea, have shared the number of basic rights they have been denied just because the law doesn’t allow or recognise their marriage. They mentioned in the plea, “Marriage is not just a relationship between two individuals it brings two families together. But it is also a bundle of rights. Without marriage, the petitioners are strangers in law. Article 21 of the Constitution of India protects the right to marry a person of one’s choice and this right applies with full force to same-sex couples, just as it does to opposite-sex couples.”

While the matter is a long way from coming to a conclusion, the fact that it now being taken up and in full steam is hope enough. With the start of this dialogue, we can now expect yet another landmark moment for the LGBTQ+ community, as they would finally be able to live the kind of life they want, with the ones they want. It may be a long fight, but boy is it going to be worth it.

Also Read : Lisa Ray Dishes Out Some Advice On Same Sex Marriage And This Is Something Everyone Needs To Read

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