New Delhi-The recent split verdict by the Supreme Court of India on the issue of legalizing same-sex marriage has ignited a storm of reactions on social media and throughout the country. This decision has significant implications for the LGBTQ+ community and the broader discussion of marriage equality in India. The Mooknayak explored the diverse reactions from celebrities, activists, and religious organizations, shedding light on the ongoing battle for equal rights and the future of same-sex marriage in India.
The much-awaited verdict on which the queer community had pinned their hopes took them aback due to the split decision, which was a significant setback for the community.
While Chief Justice of India, D.Y. Chandrachud, along with Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, favored recognizing the civil unions of same-sex couples, Justice Ravindra Bhat, PS Narsimha, and Hima Kohli went against it, ruling that only Parliament can address this matter.
A batch of 20 petitions were filed in the Supreme Court to amend the provisions of the Special Marriage Act of 1954, the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, and the Foreign Marriage Act of 1969 to pave the way for marriage rights for non-heterosexuals. However, the Supreme Court only examined the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, as the other two laws were personal laws.
The Congress and the BJP have remained silent on the matter, while only the Communist Party of India expressed disappointment with the verdict. Social media is abuzz with reactions. The verdict triggered a flurry of responses on the internet. Various celebrities, including filmmakers and authors, expressed their opinions on social media, with most of them appearing disappointed by the Supreme Court's ruling.
The legal setback turned into a moment of love and resilience for researcher Ananya Kotiya and queer lawyer Utkarsh Saxena. Undeterred by the court's denial of their rights, the duo returned to the very place of the legal battle and exchanged engagement rings before the Supreme Court building.
Controversial author Taslima Nasreen took to X to express her views after the verdict: 'People have the right to be heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transexual, asexual, or whatever. They have the right to marry, and they have the right to not marry. Freedom is an essential part of democracy,' she said. 'Though the verdict was not in our favor, many observations made were in our favor,' said LGBTQIA+ rights activist Harish Iyer speaking to the media.
'While the words of CJI Chandrachud and Justice Kaul provide dignity for same-sex couples, the Supreme Court's decision not to legalize #SameGenderMarriage is disappointing. The Supreme Court, which legalized same-sex marriage in the US in 2015, could have done the same for us in India. Unfortunately, there's a lack of vision,' said actor and activist Chetan Ahimsa.
Human rights litigator Rohin Bhatt wrote on X (formerly Twitter), " there is a need for queer lawyers to start mobilising, and creating safe spaces for lawyers. We shall have an all-India queer bar association up and running soon."
Olympian Dutee Chand was upset with the verdict as she had plans to marry her partner Monalisa. Dutee, one of the few athletes worldwide to openly acknowledge a same-sex relationship, however, sees a silver lining in the Supreme Court's unanimous ruling against same-sex marriage in India. According to her, the decision indirectly supports LGBTQ+ individuals by affirming their right to choose their partners freely. She argues that, like everyone else, queer individuals should have the freedom to lead a normal life and marry the person of their choice. Dutee's stance is grounded in the belief that recognition of same-sex marriage, as seen in several countries, should also be a reality in India.
Dutee, known as the fastest Indian woman athlete with a national 100m record of 11.17 seconds, revealed her relationship with a girl from her village back in May 2019. Despite her sporting achievements, she faced a four-year ban from the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) in January 2023 for failing doping tests.
Filmmaker Onir, an ardent supporter of LGBTQ rights who directed films like 'My Brother Nikhil,' which advocate for the queer community, appeared upset by the verdict and said, 'We had high expectations from today's verdict. But it has been very disappointing. When the hearing started, they were making really good points. The suggestions they gave to the police department for the safety of LGBTQI people are very important. But then, on the main topic, they said the government should make this decision and left it to Parliament. In 2018, the Supreme Court made the decision; that's why it was a positive decision. The court makes decisions on human rights, while the government makes decisions based on how to gain more votes.'
Celina Jaitley, during an interview with India Today, said, 'The Supreme Court's marriage ruling is definitely a disappointment. Something I've said in my 20-year journey as an LGBT activist is that the LGBT community is not asking for a different set of rights. They are only asking for the same rights every other citizen of India has: the right to marriage, a family, which is the most important right a human being can possess. So, I sincerely hope that Parliament will amend the Special Marriages Act and make it gender-neutral.'
Bhumi Pednekar, who played a lesbian in 'Badhaai Do' and has supported same-sex marriage, shared screenshots of the verdict on her social media handles. Geeta Luthra, who represented some of the petitioners in the marriage equality case, said, 'Even if the right to marriage has not been granted, CJI has said that the same bundle of rights that every married couple has should be available to same-sex couples.'
Supriya Sule, who introduced a private members bill in Lok Sabha in 2022 to legalize same-sex marriage, said, 'The denial of LGBTQIA+ marriage rights is truly disheartening, a stark reminder of the ongoing struggle for equality and acceptance. This verdict has left the LGBTQ+ community in deep sadness. It's a stark reminder that the journey towards equal rights can be a challenging one. Now, it's up to us as elected representatives in Parliament to address this crucial issue. I urge the Union Government to amend marriage laws for LGBTQIA+ individuals.'
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court's verdict also found its fair share of supporters. Religious organizations have always been against homosexuality. On Tuesday, the judgment was welcomed by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and even their Muslim counterpart, All India Majilis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen, welcomed the verdict. The publicity in-charge of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Sunil Ambekar, took to X (formerly Twitter) and welcomed the decision by posting, 'Our democratic parliamentary system can seriously discuss all the issues related to this and take appropriate decisions.'
Alok Kumar, the central working president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, issued a press statement, saying, 'We are satisfied that the Supreme Court, after listening to all concerned parties, including Hindu, Muslim, and Christian followers, has determined that the relationship between two homosexuals is a form of marriage, not eligible for registration. This is not even their fundamental right. Not granting homosexuals the right to adopt a child is also a good step.'
'I welcome the decision of the Supreme Court, where they have not allowed same-sex marriage,' said the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association.
While the Supreme Court has placed the ball in Parliament's court, it needs to be seen if Parliament will take up this issue, considering that all previous attempts in this direction have been thwarted."