'Nobody dying for lack of marriage-certificates': Centre on same-sex marriages
The Indian government today opposed the urgent hearing of petitions in the Delhi High Court seeking to recognize same-sex marriages in the country. Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, argued in the court that the government is only paying attention to "imminent" issues - those concerning public health amid the country's devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
"You do not a need marriage certificate for hospitals," SG Mehta said. "Nobody is dying because they don't have a marriage certificate," he told the court. A Bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Amit Bansal adjourned the matter until July 6.
During today's hearing, advocate Saurab Kirpal, representing one of the petitioners, said the government is supposed to be neutral and determining the urgency of a matter should be up to the court. Menaka Guruswamy, another advocate representing the petitioners, argued the issue is urgent as it affects the daily lives of lakhs of Indians. "We are left out in hospitals, medical treatment."
Earlier this year, the Centre had opposed the recognition of same-sex marriages in India, saying living together as partners and having sexual relationship by same-sex individuals should not be compared with "Indian family" system. "Living together as partners and having sexual relationship with same sex individual is not comparable with Indian family unit concept of a husband, wife and children," the Centre had argued.
The three petitions seeking the recognition of same-sex marriages in India were filed last year. One of them was reportedly filed by defense analyst Abhijit Iyer-Mitra and others, arguing the conception of marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act allows for same-sex marriages. The other two pleas had sought the registration of same-sex marriages under the Special Marriage Act and the Foreign Marriage Act, respectively.
There are nearly 70 million (seven crore) LGBTQ people living in India, advocate Guruswamy told the court during today's hearing. In a landmark judgment on September 6, 2018, a five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court of India had legalized homosexuality by striking down parts of the controversial Section 377 of the IPC. However, the government has repeatedly opined against the registration of same-sex marriages.