Marriage between same-sex couples is “not recognised by our laws, legal system, society and our values,” the government’s top lawyer told the Delhi High Court today, opposing a petition to legalise gay marriages.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta made the submission as the High Court heard a petition on legalizing same-sex marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) and Special Marriage Act.
Mr Mehta said: “Our laws, our legal system, our society and our values do not recognise marriage, which is a sacrament, between same-sex couples”.
He said the petition asking for gay marriages to be legalized was “not permissible” for two reasons. “Firstly, the petition is asking the court to legislate and secondly, any relief granted will run contrary to various statutory provisions. Unless court does violence to various laws, this cannot be done,” said the Solicitor General.
Mr Mehta also said that under the Hindu Marriage Act, various provisions regulating marriages or prohibited relationships talk of husband and wife. “Who would be assigned these roles where a same-sex couple was concerned,” he questioned.
Delhi High Court Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan observed that things were changing the world over, but it may or may not be applicable to India.
The court questioned the need for a petition, saying that people who claimed to be affected were well-educated and could themselves approach the court.
“Why should we entertain the PIL,” the judges said.
The counsel for the petitioner said the affected people were not coming forward as they feared reprisals and preferred a Public Interest Litigation.
The court asked the lawyer appearing for the petitioner, Abhijit Iyer Mitra, to give details of the persons who were not permitted to register their same-sex marriage.
The judges directed the petitioners, who include gay rights activists, to place facts about their efforts to register such marriages and said they would hear the case again on October 21.
The petition had argued that despite the Supreme Court decriminalizing consensual homosexual relationships, gay marriages were still not possible.
The Supreme Court in 2018 overturned a colonial-era law to decriminalize homosexuality.