Sun. May 26th, 2024


Panel To Address Gay Community Problems, Centre Assures In Supreme Court

Today was Day 7 of hearing in the same-sex marriage case

New Delhi:

A committee will be formed to look into “genuine human concerns” of LGBTQIA+ community, the centre told Supreme Court today during the hearing on petitions seeking legal status for same-sex marriages.

The “human concerns” here refer to several problems faced by same-sex couples in their day-to-day life, whether it is in opening a joint bank account or in adding a partner as a nominee for an insurance policy.

Appearing for the centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta today said that the committee will be headed by a cabinet secretary.

The centre’s submission came after the five-judge Constitution bench, on April 27, asked the government if social benefits can be extended to same-sex couples without going into the question of legalising same-sex marriages.

The centre’s stand has been that the question of legalising same-sex marriages falls in the domain of the legislature and that the court should not intervene in the matter.

During the April 27 hearing, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, who heads the bench, noted the centre’s arguments and said, “We take your point that if we enter this arena, this will be an arena of the legislature. So, now what? What does the government want to do with ‘cohabitory’ relations? And how a sense of security and social welfare is made? And to ensure that such relations are not ostracised?”

The court had made the remark after the centre contended that the “right to love, right to cohabit, right to choose one’s partner, right to choose one’s sexual orientation” is a fundamental right.

The court had then said that if the centre was accepting the right to cohabit as a fundamental right, then it has a “corresponding duty”.

“Once you recognise that the right to cohabit itself is a fundamental right… then there is corresponding duty on the State to at least recognise that the social incidents of that cohabitation must find a recognition in law. We are not going to marriage at all at this stage,” it said.

“You may or may not call it marriage but some label is necessary,” said the bench, also comprising Justice S K Kaul, Justice S R Bhat, Justice Hima Kohli and Justice P S Narasimha.

The court had referred to problems faced by same-sex couples in nominating heirs for gratuity, provident funds, and on matters related to succession and parenting.

“From that point of view we would be more than willing to have the government make a statement before us that because you have ministries dedicated for this purpose, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment… Ministry of Women and Child development etc,” the court said.

The government, it said, should ensure that “these cohabiting relationships must be recognised in terms of creating conditions of security, social welfare, and to ensure, by doing that, you also ensure for the future that such relationships are not ostracised in the society.”


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