Same Sex Marriage In India

This article will help in understanding the concept of Homosexuality or Same Sex Marriage. This article will give a clear understanding of the status of Homosexuality in India, section 377 of IPC and how it violates fundamental rights provided by the constitution of India. This article also provides insight into some landmark judgements relating to Homosexuality in India.

Introduction

Homosexuality and  Same  sex  marriage  are  a  taboo  in  Indian  Society.  People in India  refrain  from  talking  about  homosexuality,  but,  in  recent  years,  attitude  towards homosexuality has shifted slightly. Several News channels, Actors, Social Media influencers are coming out and speaking about them and their rights, but it is not enough.

Current generations and Indian Government are learning to be tolerant towards LGBTQ community. But even after decriminalizing section 377 of IPC, the plight of Homosexuals is not coming to an end.

In rural areas, being homosexual is considered as  a  mental  illness  and  homosexuals are  subjected   to   extreme   violence.   A proper law on Same sex marriage   is   the   need   of hours.  Homosexuals are being   subjected   to   mentality,   emotional,   physical and economic violence, harassment, exclusion, mockery, discrimination and stigmatization.

We need  to  change  our mentality and accept them as normal, ordinary citizens. Even after declaring section  377  of  IPC,  the  plight  of  LGBTQ  community  is  not  coming  to  an  end. They are being subjected to mental, physical, emotional, and economic violence.

Same Sex Marriage in India

India does not  recognize  same  sex  marriage.  Our country does  not  possess  any  law governing  same  sex  marriage.   India is home to people of   diverse   faith   and   has   codified laws   which govern   their   marriage   but   none   of   these   laws   incorporates   provisions for homosexuals.

Marriage is a union which gives certain rights.  Marriage is an ancient institution that has

existed in every  society.    It solemnizes emotional  connection.    Our society  has  still  not accepted   people   who  belong  to  LGBTQ  community.     They face  both  social  and  legal difficulties.   They cannot file  for  divorce, maintenance, allowances, succession, pensions etc. They cannot   even   get   a   complaint registered if they are raped or physically abused because there is no proper in India which protects their rights.

Homosexual Couples in India face a lot of trouble when it comes to buying property, health insurance, opening back account, getting passports, getting gratuity funds, pensions and other benefits  that  covers  spouses  and  partners.  Making same  sex  relationship  legal  is  not enough.   There   should   be   proper   laws   that   give   legal   recognition   to   their homosexual relationship and protect their rights.

Section 377 of Indian Penal Code,1860

Section   377   of   Indian   Penal   Code   which   was   introduced   in   India   during   the British   rule, states   that  “Whoever   voluntarily   has   carnal   intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Explanation- Penetration is sufficient to  constitute  the  carnal  intercourse  necessary  to  the offence described in this section.

In other words, section 377 of Indian Penal Code states that any person who indulges in any form of    unnatural    sexual    act/carnal    intercourse    against    the    order  of  nature  will  be punished for     imprisonment     for     life.     Thus, some     parts     of     section    377    have been   declared unconstitutional.

However, on September 6, 2018, the Supreme Court of India in a historic judgement of nave Singh Jahar & Or’s v. Union of India, struck   down   parts   of   section   377  of IPC,1860 which criminalizes sexual intercourse against the order of nature.

The main reason  behind   decriminalizing   homosexuality   was   that   every   citizen   should have   rights   to   choose   his/her   own   partner,   regardless   of   sex.   This   judgment   made Homosexuality legal in India.

Landmark Judgements

Naz Foundation v. Govt. of NCT of Delhi 2009

In this case,  the  Court  held  that  right  to  life  and  liberty  guaranteed  by  Article  21 includes  right  to   dignity   and   privacy   and   held   that   criminalization   of   consensual   gay sex    violated    these  rights.  The court held  that  section  377  also  violates  Article  14  of  the Constitution  as  it  creates  unreasonable  classification  and  targets  homosexuals  as  a  class. Article 15 of the Constitution forbids discrimination based on certain grounds which includes sex.  The Court held  that  the  term     sex    includes    not    only    biological    sex    but    also sexual     orientation     and,  therefore  discrimination  on   the   ground   of sexual orientation is unconstitutional. Hence, those parts of section 377 which criminalizes homosexual acts were declared unconstitutional and left the amendment part of the Parliament.

Suresh Kumar Kosha v. Naz Foundation ,2013

In this case, the Supreme Court struck down the decision given by the High Court in the  Naz  Foundation  Case  stating  that  judicial  intervention  was  required  in  this  issue.  This decision of the  Supreme  Court  recriminalized  ‘’sexual  intercourse  against  the  order  of nature.’’

National Legal Service Authority (NALSA) v. Union of India  

In   this   landmark   judgement, Supreme       Court      legally      recognized      third gender/transgender persons.   The court held that the third gender  persons  were  entitled  to fundamental     rights  guaranteed  under  Article  14,15,16,19(1)and  21  of  the  constitution. Further, the SC stated that Article    14   of   the   Constitution   protects   rights   not   only of Men and women   but   also  transgender   people.   Article 15 forbids  discrimination  on   the grounds    of    sex.    Here, sex does  not  only    refer    to    biological    sex   but   also   sexual orientation.   So, discrimination of  the ground of sex included discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

Justice K.S. Pettaway v. Union of India 2013

In this case, court held   that   the   right   to   privacy   is   protected   as   an intrinsic part   of   the  Constitution.   Court held that  sexual  orientation   is   an   essential   attribute   of privacy  and  this attribute is protected by various rights under Part 3 of the Constitution.

Naveta Singh Jahar v. Union of India

In this case, Supreme  Court  held  that  criminalization  of  consensual  sexual  sex between  adults  was  unconstitutional  as  it  violated  the  Right  to  Equality  guaranteed  under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.   Further, the   court   held   that   the   choice of whom   to partner, the   ability   to find  fulfilment  in  sexual  intimacies  and  the right not be subjected to discriminatory behavior are intrinsic to the constitutional protection of sexual orientation.

Violation of Fundamental Rights

Right to Equality

Article 14 provides   that   the   State   shall   not   deny   to   any   person   equality before the    law   or equal  protection  of  the  laws  within  the  territory  of  India  and  It  also  prohibits equality  before  law    and    equal    protection    law.    Article 14 of  the  Indian  Constitution prohibits  discrimination on the ground of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. Section

377 of IPC  violates article 14 as it unreasonably discriminates homosexuality as a class and criminalizes   them.

Right Against Discrimination

Article 15(1) prohibits   discrimination  on   the   grounds   of   religion, race, caste, sex and   place   of  birth.     In the case of National Legal Service Authority (NALSA) v. UOI, the Supreme Court held that legal recognition should be given to transgenders as a third gender. So, non-recognition of  same  sex  marriage/homosexual  act amounts to discrimination on the ground of sex. Thus, section 377 violates section Article 15(1).

Right to Freedom of Speech And Expression

Article 19 states  that  all  citizens  shall  have  the  right  to  freedom  of  speech  and expression  and  to  form  associations  or  unions.  Article 19(1)(a) also  includes  the  right  to express  one’s  sexual  identity  and  orientation.   Section 377 violates  their  ability  to   express themselves  openly. Article 19 protects privacy, gender identity, integrity.

Right to Privacy

Article 21 provides  for  protection  of   life   and   personal   liberty.   Right to live with dignity includes ‘’right   to   choose   gender   identity.’’   Article 21 of the Indian Constitution protects right    to   marry   a person  of  one’s  choice  and  this  right  also  applies  to  same  sex couples also. Section 377 of IPC denies recognitions of same sex marriage. Hence, it violates Article 21of the Indian Constitution.

Same Sex Marriage Under Various Personal Laws in India

Hindu Personal Law

Hindu Marriage Act  was  enacted  by  Parliament  in  1955  to  amend  and  to  codify marriage law between Hindus.   Section 5 of Hindu Marriage Act   states   that   marriage   can be solemnized between any two Hindus. But it uses the words like Bride, Bridegroom, Hindu Man, Hindu Women which makes   in   heteronormative   in nature. Hindu Marriage Act does not expressly  prohibits  Same  Sex  Marriage  and  can  be  easily  amended  to  include  the provisions for Same Sex Marriage.

Muslim Personal Law

Homosexual acts  are  forbidden  in  traditional  Islamic  Jurisprudence  and  are  liable  to different   punishments,   including   death   penalty.   As   per   the   traditional   Islamic   Law, homosexuality is a sin and hence it is   banned.   The   procedure   laid   down   for   marriage in    the    Quran    is heteronormative in nature. According to Muslim Personal Law, marriage is a contract and the purpose of marriage   is   to   legalize   relationship   between a  man  and woman.   The procedure provided for Divorce and Nikah also uses the terms man and women. However, it cannot be said that Homosexuality is expressly banned in Muslim Personal law.

Christian Personal Law

Christian Marriage Act does not expressly prohibit same sex marriage. It does use terms like Christian Woman and Christian Man which makes it heteronormative in nature. Section 60 of the Christian Marriage Act lays down the age of man and women intending to be married. However, it does not expressly prohibit same sex marriage.

Special Marriage Act

Special Marriage Act,1954 lays down procedures   for   marriage   between   individuals from different   Religions   and   Castes.   There is  no  provision  for  same   sex   marriage   in Special  Marriage  Act.  The Special  Marriage  Act  uses    terms    like    Man    and    Woman, making    heteronormative    in  nature.  However, it  can  be  easily  amended  and  modified  to include same sex marriage. It has been argued in the Court that Special Marriage Act should be interpreted to also apply to same sex marriages.

Conclusion

Since same sex couple do not have legal recognition, they are being subject of various crime and  abuses.  Even after  decriminalization  of  Same  Sex  relationship  the  plights  of homosexuals still continue. Our society has still not accepted it.

Marriage is not just union between two  individuals but it brings two families together. The real  challenge  is  to  make  same  sex  marriage  legal  in  India.  It still  feels  like  a  distant dream.  Every     now     and     then     homosexuals     are     being victims  of  violence,  abuses, harassment,  discrimination  and  mockery.  Legalizing same  sex  relationship  is  not  enough. There is  a  need  to  give legal recognition to same sex relationship so these people can enjoy their legal rights as normal citizens. This is just the first step. There is still a long way to go.

FAQs

Question 1) Is Same Sex Marriage Legal In India?

Ans: No, same sex marriage is not legal in India. However, Section 377 of Indian Penal Code which provided   for   punishment if any person indulged in sexual course against the order of nature has been decriminalized, making Homosexual relationship in India legal.

Question 2) How Is Section 377 Violative of Fundamental Rights?

Ans:  Section 377 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 violates fundamental rights guaranteed under

Article 14,15,19(1) and 21 of the Indian Constitution.

●   Section 377  violates     article     14  of  the  Constitution  as  it  creates  unreasonable classification and targets homosexuals as a class.

●   Section 377 discriminates homosexuals and  criminalizes  their  consensual sex. Here, sex does not only refer to biological sex but also sexual orientation. So, discrimination on the ground of sex included discrimination based on gender identity.

●   Article    19(1) (a) also    includes    the    right    to    express    one’s    sexual    identity and orientation. Section 377 violates their ability to express themselves openly.

●   Article 21 of the Indian Constitution protects right to marry a person of one’s choice and this  right  also   applies   to   same   sex   couples   also.   Section 377 of IPC denies recognitions of same sex marriage. Hence, it violates Article 21 of the Constitution.

Question 3) What Does Section 377 Of IPC Talk About?

Ans:   Section 377   of   Indian Penal  Code,  1860,  makes  sexual  activity  against  the  order of  nature  illegal  and  the  person  who  was  found  to  be  involved  in  such  activities  were imprisoned  for   life   or   imprisoned   for   10   years.   However, in   2018,   those   parts   of section   377   which criminalizes    sexual    activity    against    the    order    of    nature    were decriminalized,   making homosexuality legal in India.

Question 4) Why Is Legal Recognition Of Same Sex Marriage Important?

Ans:  Legal recognition of same sex  marriage  is  very  important  in  India.  The members of LGTQ     community    is    often    subject    to   violence, abuses,  discrimination,   exclusion, stigmatization.   People take advantage of them as there  is  no  strict  law  in  the  country  to protect   their   rights.   They often face problems   while   buying   property,  health   insurance, securing   address   proof,   filing   for   divorce,   adoption,   pension   and   other   benefits   that cover spouses and partners.

References

1)   http://www.legalserviceindia.com/articles/semar.htm

2)   https://indiankanoon.org/dhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navtej_Singh_Johar_v._Unio n_of_India#:~:text=Navtej%20Singh%20Johar%20%26%20Ors.,-v.&text=Secretary

%20Ministry%20of%20Law%20and%20Justice%20is%20a%20landmark%20decisio n,among%20adults%2C%20including%20homosexual%20sex.oc/1218090/

3)   https://www.mondaq.com/india/human-rights/737300/supreme-court-recognizes-right s-of-the-glut-community

4)   https://www.legalbites.in/need-for-legality-of-same-sex-marriage/

5)   http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-2069-same-sex-marriage-need-of-the-e ra.html

6)   https://www.lawctopus.com/academike/same-sex-marriages-in-india/

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