Parliament, not courts, best place to debate same-sex marriage, India minister says


Mumbai (Reuters) – India’s parliament, not a court of law, is the best place to debate the issue of same-sex marriage, an influential government minister said on Friday, as the country’s top court heard appeals asking for such unions to be recognised.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has already opposed these appeals, some from gay couples, on the grounds that such marriages are not “comparable with the Indian family unit concept of a husband, a wife and children.”

“Any debate over which union constitutes a marriage is, in essence, a legislative function and should not be a matter of judicial adjudication,” Bhupender Yadav, a cabinet minister, said in an opinion piece in the Hindustan Times newspaper published on Friday.

A five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dhananjaya Yashwant Chandrachud has been hearing arguments in the case since Tuesday, and several of the court’s observations have been front-page news as well as the topic of furious social media debates.

“The issue of marriage concerns society and society’s opinion on this issue cannot be excluded. The voice of society is best reflected in parliament…” Yadav, who is minister for labour and the environment, said in the piece. He is also a general secretary of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Earlier this week, the federal government told the court that it would seek the views of states on the matter, since marriage was also a state subject.

Courts around the world have been debating and examining the issue of same-sex marriage and whether such unions can be recognised by law, but Asia largely lags the West in this regard.

In an historic verdict in 2018, India’s top court decriminalised homosexuality by scrapping a colonial-era ban on gay sex. The current case is seen as a further important development on LGBT rights in the country.

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