Recognition of same-sex unions in India
India does not have a uniform civil code and every citizen has the right to choose the civil code that applies to them based on their community or religion. Although marriage is legislated at the federal level, the existence of multiple marriage laws complicates the issue. The following Acts cover Marriage Laws in India:
- Indian Christian Marriage Act of 1872 see Christian Law of Marriage in India
- Special Marriage Act, 1954
- Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
- Muslim Marriages are not codified and are governed by Islamic Sharia Law see The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937
None of the codified Marriage Acts enacted by the Union of India explicitly defines marriage between a man and a woman. Neither do these acts explicitly prohibit same sex unions. However, the laws have "heteronormative underpinnings" and have been interpreted not to recognise same-sex unions.
Since 1987, when the national press carried the story of two policewomen who married each other by Hindu rites in central India, the press has reported many same-sex marriages, all over the country, mostly between lower middle class young women in small towns and rural areas, who have no contact with any gay movement. Family reactions range from support to disapproval to violent persecution. While police generally harass such couples, Indian courts have uniformly upheld their right, as adults, to live with whomever they wish. In recent years, some of these couples have appeared on television as well. There have also been numerous joint suicides by same-sex couples, mostly female (male-female couples also resort to suicide or to elopement and religious marriage when their families oppose their unions).
In "Same-Sex Love in India : Readings from Literature and History", author Ruth Vanita analyses dozens of such marriages and suicides that have taken place over the last three decades, and explores their legal, religious, and historical aspects. She argues that many of the marriages can arguably be considered legally valid, as under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, any marriage between two Hindus performed according to the customs prevalent in the community of one of the two partners is legally valid. No license is required to marry, and most heterosexual Hindu marriages in India today are performed by religious rites alone, without a marriage license and are never registered with the state. State recognition is not sought by most couples because it confers few benefits. Most couples seek the validation of family and community, and several female couples in rural areas and small towns have received this validation.
There have also been a couple of high-profile celebrity same-sex civil-partnerships (same-sex marriage was not possible under French law until 2013, only civil-partnerships), such as the civil union of designer Wendell Rodricks with his French partner Jerome Marrel, conducted under French law in Goa, India.
In February 2017, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare unveiled resource material relating to health issues to be used as a part of a nationwide adolescent peer-education plan called Saathiya. Among other subjects, the material discusses homosexuality. The material states, "Yes, adolescents frequently fall in love. They can feel attraction for a friend or any individual of the same or opposite sex. It is normal to have special feelings for someone. It is important for adolescents to understand that such relationships are based on mutual consent, trust, transparency and respect. It is alright to talk about such feelings to the person for whom you have them but always in a respectful manner."
Activities for legalizing of Same-Sex Marriages
Traditionally India identifies same-sex unions to be a trans-rooted alien culture-bound syndrome and associated social disorder. Hence homophilic groups are working in the backgrounds for a step by step approach that is required to tackle all the problems and rights of the LGBT citizens of India. The current focus of groups is to repeal the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, equality and non discrimination. Nevertheless, LGBT rights agencies are optimistic and are working on winning the right to same-sex marriage, inspired by the financial support and progress achieved in several western countries. In April 2014 Medha Patkar of the Aam Aadmi Party stated that her party supports same-sex marriage.
A single case of legal recognition of same sex marriage was granted by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2011 On August 24, 2016 a draft law bill denied homosexuals from having surrogate children with the statement - India does not recognize live-in and homosexual relationships.
- "Orinam and Alternative Law Forum's Analysis of Marriage Laws in India".
- "Homosexuality And The Indian".
- "Lesbians forced to live in anonymity in India".
- "Same-sex attraction is OK, boys can cry, girl's no means no". The Indian Express. 21 February 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
- "Homosexual attraction is OK; 'NO' means no: Health Ministry rises above Indian stereotypes". The Financial Express. 21 February 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
- Joe Morgan (2014-04-11). "India 'party of the people' promises to legalise gay sex, marriage". Gay Star News. Retrieved 2014-04-11.
- "Lesbian marriages, born of a legal loophole, stir debate in India".
- "India proposes commercial surrogacy ban; live-ins, homosexuals worst hit". hindustantimes. 24 August 2016. Retrieved 26 August 2016.