Landmark ruling awards social benefits to LGBTQ+ families in India

Single parents, stepparents and adoptive families will also be extended such legal benefits under the historic ruling.

Split screen: Taj Mahal in India (left), series of rainbow flags against a bright sky (right)
Image: Image by Luca from Pixabay | Image by Filmbetrachter from Pixabay

History has been made in India as the Supreme Court ruled that LGBTQ+ families are entitled to social benefits equal to “traditional” families.

This landmark decision grants legal protection to LGBTQ+ families and was ruled into existence by justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna on August 28. These social benefits also extend to other “non-traditional” families in India, including single parents, stepparents and adoptive families.

“[The law] must not be relied upon to disadvantage families which are different from traditional ones,” the justices declared. “Familial relationships may take the form of domestic, unmarried partnerships or queer relationships.”

The justice rejected the idea that the “traditional” (i.e. heteronormative) family is the default family structure, saying that this idea “ignores both, the many circumstances which may lead to a change in one’s familial structure, and the fact that many families do not conform to this expectation to begin with.”

“Similarly,” they added, “the guardians and caretakers (who traditionally occupy the roles of the “mother” and the “father”) of children may change with remarriage, adoption, or fostering.”

“Such atypical manifestations of the family unit are equally deserving not only of protection under the law but also of the benefits available under social welfare legislation.”

Although this ruling is a massive win for LGBTQ+ rights in India, it actually stems from a case in which a mother sought maternity leave after the birth of her first biological child. This benefit was denied, according to the Hindustan Times, as she had previously been granted this designated time off to care for her adopted child (her husband’s child from a previous marriage).

This week’s historic ruling is all the more welcome and impressive considering only four years ago, sex between consenting gay men was still a criminal offence in India. Prior to the overturning of Section 377 of the penal code by the country’s Supreme Court in 2018, those convicted could face up to ten years’ imprisonment.

Bearing in mind the recent history of LGBTQ+ rights in India, the awarding of social benefits to queer families comes as a surprising but remarkable win for our community.

© 2022 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.