Indian-American LGBTQ members on Saturday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to support equal rights of their community in India, reported PTI.
The statement came ahead of Modi’s state visit to the Unite States beginning June 21.
“I would say the Indian Supreme Court has been debating the issue of gay marriage, LGBTQ marriage for a couple of months now,” Aruna Rao, executive director of Desi Rainbow, told PTI. “I would urge Prime Minister Modi to support this, to support the equal rights of the LGBTQ community in India and to understand that our children and LGBTQ folks are entitled to equal rights because we are all human.”
Rao, along with other members of his LGBTQ rights group, was invited to participate in a Pride Rally at the White House.
“My understanding is in the metro areas, there is some support for LGBTQ people,” Rao told the news agency. “Legislatively also, the government has moved forward in terms of transgender rights. But there is a lot to be done, particularly not in the metro areas, in the small towns, in the villages where people don’t have support, don’t have access to any kind of equal rights.”
She added: “In every which way, economically, socially, culturally, LGBTQ folks in India, in South Asia need a lot of support.”
A Constitution bench of the Supreme Court in India comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, S Ravindra Bhat, Hima Kohli, and PS Narasimha is hearing the pleas that have challenged the constitutionality of laws that only recognise marriages between a man and a woman.
The petition has also contended that marriage law provisions in the country are discriminatory against the LGBTQIA+ community and infringe on their fundamental right to dignity and privacy.
The Narendra Modi government has opposed the petitions, arguing that same-sex marriages are not compatible with the Indian idea of family and that the demands for their legal recognition represent “urban elitist views for the purpose of social acceptance”. It has also contended that making laws around marriage is the prerogative of the legislature and the judiciary need not intervene.