In a move that underscores its commitment to global marriage equality and the rights of the LGBTQ community, the United States has called upon India to work towards offering equal legal protection to same-sex couples. The U.S. State Department expressed disappointment after India’s Supreme Court declined to legalize same-sex marriage, emphasizing that it is closely monitoring the follow-up steps taken by the Indian government on this critical issue.
A Parliament Decision for Same-Sex Marriage
India’s Supreme Court, in a unanimous order by a five-judge bench, opted not to legalize same-sex marriage, leaving the decision in the hands of the country’s parliament. This decision has left the LGBTQ community in India disheartened, coming five years after the court’s historic ruling to abolish a colonial-era ban on gay sex. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had argued that the legislature is the appropriate forum to rule on the issue, a stance supported by the court’s verdict.
U.S. Advocacy for Marriage Equality
“The United States supports marriage equality globally,” emphasized a U.S. State Department spokesperson, further stating that they are closely observing the government’s actions and civil society’s reactions following the Supreme Court’s ruling. Despite the disappointment, the U.S. continues to voice its unwavering support for marriage equality and the protection of LGBTQI+ individuals against discrimination, urging the Indian government to take the necessary steps to provide equal legal protection to same-sex couples.
A Challenge in a Conservative Landscape
India’s situation is emblematic of a broader challenge in Asia, where conservative values still dominate many societies. The continent lags behind the Western world in accepting the concept of same-sex marriage. Chief Justice of India, D.Y. Chandrachud, reiterated the court’s role, stating, “It cannot make law. It can only interpret it and give effect to it.”
The U.S. State Department has maintained regular engagement with the Indian government on human rights concerns, including those related to LGBTQ rights. While this issue remains a point of contention, it is part of a broader dialogue that includes discussions about the treatment of religious minorities, journalists, and dissidents in India, as outlined in previous State Department reports, a characterization that New Delhi disputes.