In Supreme Court, Centre opposes recognition of same-sex marriages

In Supreme Court, Centre opposes recognition of same-sex marriages
The Centre has opposed petitions pending before the Supreme Court seeking recognition of same-sex marriages, saying the issue has consequences and must be left to the legislature.
The Government also said interfering with the present system which is governed by personal laws ‘would cause complete havoc with the delicate balance of personal laws in the country and in accepted societal values’.

In its affidavit filed in the top court, the Union Government said ‘Parliament has designed and framed the marriage laws in the country, which are governed by the personal laws/codified laws relatable to customs of various religious communities, to recognise only the union of a man and a woman to be capable of legal sanction, and thereby claim legal and statutory rights and consequences’ and ‘any interference with the same would cause a complete havoc with the delicate balance of personal laws in the country and in accepted societal values’.
The Centre said that ‘the notion of marriage itself necessarily and inevitably presupposes a union between two persons of the opposite sex. This definition is socially, culturally and legally ingrained into the very idea and concept of marriage and ought not to be disturbed or diluted by judicial interpretation’.
Referring to laws dealing with marriage, it said that ‘a plain reading of the impugned laws makes plain that the legislative intent was to recognise marriage as being the union of one man and one woman only. The language employed in the provisions thereof eg ‘female’. ‘woman’, ‘husband’, ‘wife’ etc is proof positive that the legislature in making these laws never intended that they should apply to any union other than heterosexual marriages. The terms used are specific, being capable of only one possible definition’.

‘Using such gender-specific language was a conscious decision of Parliament and shows that gender-specific application of these laws is part of the legislative policy. Given the clear intent of Parliament expressed in the Acts, the court ought not to adopt a construction that would defeat such intent not should it expand the definition of marriage to such classes who were never meant to be covered under it. To do so would completely distort the language of the statute,’ it added.

The Centre said that ‘despite the decriminalisation of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) the Petitioners cannot claim a fundamental right for same-sex marriage to be recognised under the laws of the country’.

The government sought to underline that ‘recognition and conferring rights recognising human relations which has its consequences in law, and privileges, is, in essence, a legislative function and can never be the subject matter of judicial adjudication’.

The affidavit said that marriage ‘in its present form, ie between a biological man and a biological woman, is accepted statutorily, religiously and socially’ and ‘any recognised deviation of this human relationship can occur only before the competent legislature’.

The Centre pointed out that ‘recognition of marriage necessarily brings with it the right to adopt and other ancillary rights’. Therefore, it is ‘necessary that such issues are left for being decided by the competent Legislature where social, psychological and other impacts on society, children etc., can be debated. This will ensure that wide-ranging ramifications of recognising such sacred relationships are debated from every angle and legitimate state interest can be considered by the Legislature’, it added.

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