The Delhi High Court has sought the views of Indian Government in response to two petitions regarding recognition of same-sex marriages in India under the Special Marriages Act and the Foreign Marriage Act (FMA). Last week, a lesbian couple and a gay couple had filed two petitions before the court for legal recognition of their relationship. The court has directed the Centre to file their reply within four weeks.
During the course of the hearing, the government counsel also said that such marriages have not happened in Sanatan Dharam in 5000 years. “This is a peculiar situation in the history of Sanatan Dharma. In 5,000 years of this history, this kind of situation we have not faced,” advocate Raj Kumar Yadav said.
In response, Justice Asha Menon said, “We may shed our inhibitions. The very language of the statute is gender-neutral. Please try to interpret the law in favour of the citizens of the ‘Sanatan Dharma’ country… This (petition) is not adversarial. My request to both counsels from Union of India is that this is not adversarial…”
Detailing the court room exchange, Bar and Bench website writes, “When the Court was told that there was another plea seeking to challenge the interpretation of the Hindu Marriage Act on grounds that it should also recognise same-sex marriages, Guruswamy submitted that it was entirely different from the present pleas.” She informed the court that in the current petition, the petitioners are aggrieved party as they were denied marriage. Guruswamy also made it clear that their plea was recognition of same-sex marriages under Special Marriage Act and Foreign Marriage act, and not for modification of the Personal Laws. “The Special Marriage Act, Foreign Marriage Act is not based on customary law. It is statutory….We are not on customary or religious law. We are on civil law.”
The next hearing of the case will be on January 8th.