Amid the ongoing debate over same-sex marriage in the country in the wake of an affidavit filed by the Centre opposing the practice, LGBTQ activist Prijith PK on Tuesday alleged that the government was demonstrating a ‘homophobic’ attitude in a bid to cater to its traditional vote bank with an eye on the upcoming elections.
The Centre, in its affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, had opposed the plea seeking legal recognition of same-sex marriage saying that the practice of same-sex couples living together, which though decriminalised now, is not comparable with the idea of a traditional Indian family and they are clearly distinct classes that cannot be treated identically.
“The affidavit and the position taken by the Union government with regard to same-sex marriage is surprising. As a political party and the government, they (BJP) always stand against the interests of the LGBTQ people. They have done this with an eye on the upcoming elections. Their homophobic attitude is simply aimed at catering to their traditional vote bank,” Prijith said.
Further opposing the affidavit filed by the Centre, Prijith said diversity and inclusion forms the bedrock of Indian culture.
“What culture are they talking about? The culture of India is based on diversity and inclusion. When they accept queer rights, they also have to accept marriage rights of LGBTQ people. They have to accept the legislature, which has acknowledged and upheld the marriage, adoption rights and fundamental rights of LGBTQ people,” said Prijith.
The Centre filed the affidavit in response to the demand put forward by various petitioners seeking legal recognition of same-sex marriage.
The Centre opposed the plea saying that pleas seeking legal recognition of same-sex marriage ought to be dismissed as there exists no merit in such petitions.
Same-sex relationships and heterosexual relationships are clearly distinct classes which cannot be treated identically, the government said, articulating its stand against the petition seeking legal recognition of LGBTQ marriage.
It is for the legislature to judge and enforce such societal morality and public acceptance based upon Indian ethos, the Centre stated in its affidavit, adding that western decisions sans any basis in Indian constitutional law and jurisprudence cannot be imported in this context.
Further, in its affidavit, the Centre told the Supreme Court that living together by same-sex individuals is not consistent with the idea of an Indian family comprising a husband, a wife and children.
Centre submitted that the principles of legitimate state interest as an exception to life and liberty under Article 21 would apply to the present case. It submitted further that the statutory recognition of marriage as a union between a “man” and a “woman” is intrinsically linked to the recognition of the heterogeneous institution of marriage and the acceptance of the Indian society based upon its own cultural and societal values which are recognised by the competent legislature.
“There is an intelligible differentia (normative basis) which distinguishes those within the classification (heterosexual couples) from those left out (same-sex couples). This classification has a rational relation with the object sought to be achieved (ensuring social stability via recognition of marriages),” the government said in its affidavit.
It said statutory recognition of marriage as a union between a “man” and a “woman” is intrinsically linked to the recognition of the heterogeneous institution of marriage and the acceptance of the Indian society based upon its own cultural and societal values which are recognized by the competent legislature.
The Supreme Court on Monday referred various petitions seeking legal recognition of same-sex marriage to the Constitution Bench.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud listed the petitions seeking legal recognition of same-sex marriage to a five-judge bench Constitution Bench, saying that the hearing will take place on April 18.
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