Are Gay Marriages Legal in India?
Gay marriages are neither legally permitted nor recognized in India.
Homosexuality is considered a taboo in the Indian society, which remains conservative on matters of sexuality, marriage, and partnerships. For this reason, societies across countries have not been able to accept gay marriages. In recent times, there has been significant growth in the awareness of the LGBT (an initialism that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community and its rights. Urban Indians, particularly the younger lot, are not quite as judgmental or puritan in their views.
Are gay marriages legal in India?
Despite a mass radical movement over the years in support of recognizing the community and sensitizing the society about the existence of LGBT people, homosexuality is still considered a criminal offense, according to the Indian legal system. Gays marriages are still not legal in India. However, a lot has been done to integrate the community into mainstream societies.
Article 377 is a controversial Indian law that deals with homosexual relations. It came into force in 1862 and was inspired by the ideas of morality during the Victorian era. The government of independent India has defended the law, and the conservative society has resisted changing it.
It says: “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 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
Even in cases where the law has not been involved, strict social norms and community restrictions have translated into the persecution of gay couples, sometimes also leading to honor killings.
In 2009, the legal system seemed to fall in line with changing social dynamics, and the Delhi High Court declared a part of the much-debated Section 377 unconstitutional. The court ruled that “the section denies a gay person a right to full personhood”.
The LGBT community’s celebration, however, remained short-lived as the country’s apex court, the Supreme Court, upturned the ruling in 2013. The Supreme Court of India laid the onus of revising the law on the country’s parliament. Not much has been done in this respect, though.
While these legal and social hurdles continue to be faced by the homosexuals of the country, India has moved ahead in its attempts to include transgender people into mainstream society. In 2014, the Supreme Court of the state issued a landmark verdict directing the country’s government to pronounce transgender people a third gender.
The ruling made way for the transgender people to find reservation under the OBC quota (giving them work and education opportunities) and to enjoy all the privileges accorded by the law to other citizens. Also, on September 6, 2018, the Supreme Court of India decriminalized Section 377, making gay sex legal. India is on the way to integrating the LGBT community.
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