This article on ‘Bar Council of India Opposes Same-sex Marriages’ was written by Shriharshini Balachandar, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
Same-sex marriage is a topic of heated debate in many countries around the world, and India is no exception. While some countries have legalized same-sex marriage, others continue to oppose it. In India, the Bar Council of India, the supervisory body that governs the legal practice in the country, has taken a firm stance against same-sex marriage.
In this article, we will explore the reasons why the Bar Council of India opposes same-sex marriage, the legal arguments behind its stance, and the relevant case laws that have shaped the debate on this issue.
The Reasons for Opposing Same-Sex Marriage
The Bar Council of India has expressed its opposition to same-sex marriage on several occasions. One of the primary reasons it cites for its opposition is that same-sex marriage is not recognized under Indian law. The council argues that since the Indian legal system only recognizes marriages between a man and a woman, same-sex marriage would be illegal and against the law.
Another reason the Bar Council of India opposes same-sex marriage is that it believes it goes against traditional Indian values and culture. The council argues that marriage has always been understood as a union between a man and a woman, and changing this definition would be a violation of cultural norms and values.
Finally, the Bar Council of India has also expressed concerns about the potential impact of legalizing same-sex marriage on the institution of marriage as a whole. The council argues that legalizing same-sex marriage could lead to a breakdown of the traditional family structure and undermine the stability of society.
The Legal Arguments Against Same-Sex Marriage
The Bar Council of India opposes same-sex marriage, citing various legal justifications. A significant argument put forward by the council is that same-sex marriage lacks recognition under Indian law. According to the Indian legal system, only marriages between a man and a woman are acknowledged, and the council contends that legalizing same-sex marriage would be unlawful and contravene the law.
The council maintains that the legalization of same-sex marriage in India would go contrary to Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees the right to personal liberty and life. The council contends that while marriage is a fundamental right protected under Article 21, it is restricted to unions between a man and a woman. Hence, allowing same-sex marriage would breach this essential right.
The Bar Council of India presents another legal argument against same-sex marriage, stating that it would contravene the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, which governs marriages within the Hindu community in India. The council posits that the act defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, making same-sex marriage unlawful under this legislation.
Furthermore, the council asserts that the legalization of same-gender marriage could potentially destabilize society by disrupting the traditional family structure. The council contends that the traditional family setup is crucial to the fabric of society, and any attempt to alter it could have severe ramifications.
Case Laws Related to Same-Sex Marriage
The debate on same-sex marriage in India has been shaped by several landmark case laws. In this section, we will discuss some of the most significant cases related to this issue.
- Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India: The Supreme Court of India made a landmark ruling in 2018 in the case of Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India. The case contested the constitutionality of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalized consensual sexual activities between adults of the same gender. The Supreme Court declared Section 377 unconstitutional, stating that it violated the right to privacy and equality. The court maintained that sexual orientation is an essential element of privacy and that the criminalization of consensual same-sex activities breached this right. Although the ruling did not legalize same-sex marriage, it was considered a significant advancement towards the LGBTQ+ community’s greater recognition in India. The ruling paved the way for increased acknowledgement and protection of LGBTQ+ rights in the country.
- Suresh Kumar Koushal v. Naz Foundation: Prior to the Navtej Singh Johar decision, the Supreme Court of India issued a controversial ruling in 2013 in the case of Suresh Kumar Koushal v. Naz Foundation. The case contested the constitutionality of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which made consensual sexual acts between adults of the same gender illegal. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Section 377 in a highly disputed judgment, asserting that it did not infringe upon the fundamental rights of the LGBTQ+ community. The ruling faced severe criticism for its failure to display compassion and comprehension toward the LGBTQ+ community.
- Legal Reforms: The Indian government can take steps to reform the legal system to recognize same-sex marriage and provide legal protection to the LGBTQ+ community. This can include amending existing laws or enacting new legislation that addresses the issue.
- Awareness and Sensitization: Awareness campaigns and sensitization programs can be organized to increase understanding and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community in India. This can include education and training programs for lawmakers, law enforcement officials, and the general public.
- Community Support: The LGBTQ+ community in India can benefit from greater support from civil society organizations and advocacy groups. These groups can provide legal, social, and emotional support to LGBTQ+ individuals and help them fight discrimination and marginalization.
- International Pressure: The international community can play a vital role in promoting LGBTQ+ rights in India. Governments, NGOs, and international organizations can pressure the Indian government to take steps to protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community and recognize same-sex marriage.
- Dialogue and Engagement: Dialogue and engagement between the government and the LGBTQ+ community can help to build trust and foster a greater understanding of the issues at stake. This can include consultation with LGBTQ+ individuals and organizations in the process of policymaking and lawmaking.
The Bar Council of India’s opposition to same-sex marriage is based on legal arguments that centre around the Indian legal system’s recognition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, traditional Indian values and culture, and concerns about the stability of society. However, the Supreme Court of India’s landmark judgment in Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India has paved the way for greater acceptance of LGBTQ+ rights in India.
While same-sex marriage is still not legal in India, the country has made significant strides toward greater recognition and protection of LGBTQ+ rights. The debate on same-sex marriage in India is far from over, and it remains to be seen how the legal system will evolve to address this issue in the future.
- Devesh Kumar, “Bar Council of India passes resolution opposing same-sex marriages, chairman says ‘against our culture,” Mint, 23 April 2023, available at https://www.livemint.com/news/india/bar-council-of-india-passes-resolution-opposing-same-sex-marriages-chairman-says-against-our-culture-11682257929300.html (last visited on 28-04-2023)
- Aneesha Mathur, Kanu Sarda,” Bar Council of India opposes the legal recognition of same-sex marriages,” India Today, 23 April 2023, available at https://www.indiatoday.in/law/story/bar-council-of-india-opposes-legal-recognition-of-same-sex-marriages-2363701-2023-04-23 (Last visited on 28-04-2023).
- Sahibnoor Singh Sidhu,” Bar Council has More Vital Tasks at Hand Than Making Unsolicited Comments on Same-Sex Marriage,” Newsclick, 25 April 2023, available at https://www.newsclick.in/bar-council-has-more-vital-tasks-hand-making-unsolicited-comments-same-sex-marriage (Last visited on 28-04-2023).