The LGBTIQ+ community in the State is disappointed by the Supreme Court’s refusal to grant legal recognition to same-sex marriages, but says the verdict was not wholly unexpected either.
Prijith P.K., general secretary, Queerythm, said the petitions in front of the court hinged on the Special Marriage Act (SMA), but the approach probably should have been to lay out that without the right to marriage, the right to equality before law was suffering.
He pointed out that though it was a 3:2 majority judgment, all five of the Supreme Court judges left it to the legislature to enact a law to recognise same-sex marriages. Even the Chief Justice who opined that the State should recognise such unions had declined to read down the SMA.
M.N. Parasuraman, Vice Principal, KNM Government Arts and Science College, Kanjiramkulam, said he was not very optimistic at the outset even because there are a lot of contradictions in society that made anything other than what transpired difficult. The judiciary might have its limitations, but it was very disappointing that as a nation and society, we are happy to live on in the middle ages, he said.
“Indian civilisation was never queer-phobic but we adopted the Victorian morality of the British, and spread false ideas about our culture. They abandoned it after the Second World War, but we still cling to it. As a society that was inclusive in the past, we need to think what future we want.”
Prijith felt that wider consultations and a stronger campaign at the national level to rally support of the whole community as had been in the case in 2018 when homosexuality was decriminalised would have helped. He is, however, happy that the case did highlight the same-sex couple marriage and related issues.
Padma Lakshmi, lawyer, said the Supreme Court judgment was painful for there had been a lot of expectations from it. The court, she said, had said it could not legislate on same-sex marriages, but the question that arose was if any political party would speak for the rights of such couples when votebank was their prime consideration.
In countries where same-sex marriages has been recognised, it was the judiciary that had taken the first step in this regard, she pointed out.
She also said she did not have much hopes that a committee to decide the rights of queer people would see the light of day.
The fight for legalising same-sex marriages would not end with this verdict, but it was exhausting for such couples when despite all the talk of change, it was not visible or frustratingly slow, they said.
It was also significant that the court held State legislatures free to enact laws recognising same-sex marriage. Whether Kerala would blaze a trail in this regard or bow to pressure from various corners, especially as elections beckoned, remained to be seen, they said.
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