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Delhi High Court takes up hearing of pleas to recognise same-sex marriages under the law

The bench has asked the government to submit a response within the next four weeks to answer the petition that seeks to legalize same sex marriage

By: Gokul Kumar

The Delhi High Court has issued a notice to the Centre regarding a petition that is seeking a direction to the government for the recognition of same-sex marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act and the Special Marriage Act.

The sitting bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Asha Menon has asked the centre to submit a response within the coming 4 weeks and have listed the case for hearing alongside two other petitions that have sought a similar relief. The PIL seeks a declaration to recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry under the aforementioned acts which were moved by Abhjit Iyer Mitra, Gopi Shankar M, Giti Thadani, and G. Oorvasi. 

The representation appearing for the petitioners, Adv. Ragav Awasthi submitted that the language used in the Hindu Marriage Act is in fact gender neutral, implying that the same rights would have to be applied to same-sex marriages. 

A number of similar submissions were made in respect to the Foreign Marriage Act, given that it does not distinguish between heterosexual vs homosexual couples. This matter is expected to be taken up in court on the 8th of January 2021, the date when the earlier petition was listed by the aforementioned Justices Endlaw and Menon.

While there has been no statutory bar against same sex marriages under the HMA and SMA, they have not been registered throughout the country or in Delhi at all. The plea argues that the prohibition of LGBTQ+ people on the basis of their sexual orientation and their gender identity stands as an absolute discrimination towards them and violates their right to equality as granted by the Indian Constitution.

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