Supreme Court to Review Decision on Same-Sex Marriage Recognition on July 10

The Supreme Court of India is set to revisit its previous decision regarding the legal recognition of same-sex marriages, a ruling that was made on October 17 of last year. Scheduled for July 10, this review will be undertaken by a five-judge bench led by Chief Justice D. Y. Chandrachud, as noted in the Supreme Court’s cause list.

Last year, the apex court declined to recognize same-sex marriages legally, stating that there was no “unqualified right” to marriage unless the unions are recognized by existing laws. This decision was seen as a significant setback for gay rights activists who have been fighting for equal marital rights under the law.

The bench, which includes Justices Sanjiv Khanna, Hima Kohli, B. V. Nagarathna, and P. S. Narasimha, will review the pleas in chambers—a common practice for such proceedings.

Despite the refusal to recognize these marriages, the Supreme Court had emphasized the importance of non-discrimination against queer individuals. Measures such as establishing ‘Garima Greh’ safe houses in all districts for harassed or assaulted LGBTQIA++ community members and dedicated hotline numbers were highlighted in their ruling.

The decision last October stemmed from a batch of 21 petitions, leading to four separate verdicts by the constitutional bench, all concurring that the recognition of same-sex marriages should fall under the legislative domain, particularly under the Special Marriage Act.

Interestingly, the judges unanimously acknowledged the natural occurrence of queerness, dismissing any notions of it being an “urban or elite” phenomenon. Moreover, the court had outlined the possible establishment of a committee led by the Cabinet Secretary to define the scope of entitlements for queer couples in unions.

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This upcoming review comes after LGBTQIA++ rights activists, emboldened by the 2018 Supreme Court decision that decriminalized consensual gay sex, continue to seek legal validation for same-sex marriages and associated rights like adoption, banking, and inheritance.

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