The petitions seeking legalisation of same-sex marriage in India only represent “urban elitist views for the purpose of social acceptance”, the Centre has told the Supreme Court in an affidavit filed on Sunday, Live Law reported.
This is the second affidavit filed by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Central government in the Supreme Court against pleas seeking recognition of same-sex marriages in the country. A five-judge Constitution bench led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud will begin hearing a batch of petitions on the matter from April 18.
In its affidavit, the Centre described marriage as an “exclusively heterogenous institution”. It argued that recognition of marriage is a legislative function and the the courts should refrain from deciding on the matter.
“The competent legislature will have to take into account broader views and voice of all rural, semi-rural and urban population, views of religious denominations keeping in mind personal laws, as well as, customs governing the field of marriage together with its inevitable cascading effects on several other statutes,” the affidavit stated, according to Bar and Bench.
Several petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of laws that only recognise marriages between a man and a woman. The petitioners have argued that these provisions are discriminatory against the LGBTQIA+ community and infringe on their fundamental right to dignity and privacy.
In its first affidavit filed last month, the Centre had opposed the petitions saying that same-sex individuals living together as partners and having sexual relationships was “not comparable to the Indian family unit concept” that involves a biological man and biological woman.
The government’s stand is in consonance with that of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, who have maintained that marriages should be allowed only among opposite genders. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has also opposed pleas seeking change in adoption rules for same-sex couples.
In the affidavit filed on Sunday, the Centre has also argued that the legislature’s accountability is towards the citizens and it should act “in accordance with the popular will”, particularly when it comes to personal laws, reported Bar and Bench.
“Where the social consensus favours a particular definition of marriage, the legislature in giving sanction to that form is only discharging its duty of adhering to the will of the people,” the government said. “This unequivocal democratic will should not be negated by a judicial order.”
The Central government also submitted that not recognising same-sex marriages would not amount as discrimination.