Indian Supreme Court commences hearings on legalising same-sex marriage

The Supreme Court has begun deliberations regarding legalising same-sex marriage in India, with the outcome expected to take two weeks.

Two women pose with Pride flag in India where the country is debating same-sex marriage
Image: Shutterstock photo by Himanshu Chhabra

Members of the Indian Supreme Court are considering legalising same-sex marriage. As of Tuesday, April 18, the five-judge panel is hearing from 51 petitioners in India, with the review process expected to take approximately two weeks.

This comes after various courts across the country received appeals and petitions from residents requesting the legalisation of same-sex marriage last year. The Supreme Court decided to bundle these petitions together and review them.

The hearings will debate the rights of LGBTQ+ people to consider if they can get married and gain equality under the law. The case will also consider the rights of gay couples to adopt children.


Dozens of LGBTQ+ individuals and activists have already weighed in. At the forefront of the case are Kavita Arora and Ankita Khanna.

The Delhi couple has been in a relationship for 11 years. Khanna said, “We realised that this isn’t just about us. This is about so many of the young people we meet and the kind of future that they should have without thinking that just because they’re queer, they can’t have an identity and a life.”


However, the nation’s government has called the practice an “urban elitist concept” that undermines religious and social values. While the statement has evoked strong reactions from the community, it is not unexpected.

Passing marriage equality would be a huge milestone in India, a country that continues to maintain traditional patriarchal ideals about the practice. Research shows that only about 37% of the population supports same-sex marriage, and the Indian government recently refused to promote a gay lawyer to the Supreme Court.

On Monday, April 17, the Hindu nationalist government submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court, which opposed same-sex marriage, claiming, “A valid marriage is only between a biological male and a biological woman,” and requested that the case be thrown out.

Rohin Bhatt, an openly gay lawyer fighting for LGBTQ+ rights in the nation, said, “It’s about fundamental rights of citizens. What we are asking for as queer people in this country is merely that the rights which exist for heterosexual couples be extended to us; nothing more and nothing less.”


The hearing is being live-streamed and is available for anyone to watch.

If the court legalises same-sex marriage, India will become the 35th country in the world to do so and just the second Asian country to reach the milestone, after Taiwan.

In 2014, the Indian Supreme Court approved a case that recognised transgender people as a “third gender”, and since decriminalising homosexuality in 2018, the country has experienced a gradual societal shift. India has hosted Pride marches in major cities and queer people are increasingly visible in television and popular culture.

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