Amid arguments from some quarters that the Parliament —not the Supreme Court— should have the final say on the issue of same-sex marriages, a lawyer on Tuesday cited independent research to show that the Parliament has demonstrated no intent so far to pass a law on the issue.
Advocate Anand Grover cited research by Pink List India, the country’s first archive documenting politicians supporting LGBTQIA+ rights, and argued before the Supreme Court that it shows there has been no positive response from the Parliament on the issue.
This comes amid ongoing hearings in the Supreme Court on the clutch of petitions seeking legal recognition of same-sex marriages. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud is hearing the case. While petitions were filed under religion-specific personal laws and secular Special Marriage Act (SMA), the SC is only considering pleas concerned with the SMA.
The Pink List India research cited by Grover shows that, since 2008, despite questions in the Parliament, objections in debates, and private member bills, there has been no progress on marriage equality.
In a statement, the Pink List said, “In May 2008, Shahid Siddiqui of the RLD asked a question in the Rajya Sabha on whether the government intended to recognise same-sex marriage. In December 2020, Derek O’ Brien of the TMC asked a similar question in the Rajya Sabha. In both cases, the government responded that it had no intentions to take any such steps.”
The statement said during the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill in 2018, concerns were raised around restricting queer couples, who are currently not eligible to adopt children in India, from becoming parents.
The Pink List India says Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar of the TMC, Lavu Sri Krishna Devarayalu of the YSRCP, Sangeeta Kumari of the BJP, Hema Malini of the BJP, Anubhav Mohanty of the BJD, Gautham Sigamani of the DMK, Supriya Sule of the NCP, T Sumathy of the DMK, and Shashi Tharoor of the Congress spoke out against the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill while referring to the harm it causes to LGBTQIA+ individuals in the Lok Sabha.
“The then health minister, JP Nadda, and BJP MP Nishikant Dubey prevented further conversations on the issue by claiming that the bill was restricted to conventional understandings of a family. Anupriya Patel of the Apna Dal (Sonelal), who was the Union Minister of State for Health, defended the exclusion of single and gay people by saying, ‘A child needs a normal family, a mother and father’,” said the Pink List India.
During the debate on the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act In 2021, MPs raised concerns around the bill failing to allow single men and LGBTQIA+ couples from availing ART treatments. Sangeeta Azad of the BSP, Karti Chidambaram of Congress, Adhir Ranjan Choudhary of Congress, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar of the TMC, Hasnain Masoodi of the JKNC, Anubhav Mohanty of the BJD, Pratima Mondal of the TMC and Supriya Sule of the NCP specifically mentioned the violation of the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community in the Lok Sabha. Their concerns were not met with a response from the government.
The statement said the government’s assertion that marriage equality is an issue “not contemplated by the existing legislation” is inaccurate at best and misleading at worst. While arguing that it is “constitutionally imperative to leave the question to the appropriate legislature which represents the democratic mandate”, the government has conveniently ignored its own repeated attempts to prevent any discussions around marriage equality in parliament, the statement reads.
Since 2019, Pink List India has tracked the views of Indian politicians on LGBTQ+ rights.
“We have maintained an exhaustive record on our website, with individual report cards available for each elected representative in the Lok Sabha with their track record on LGBTQ+ issues - both within and outside parliament. Four separate instances demonstrate that parliament has failed to discuss the expansion of the definition of family, despite having had the opportunity to do so,” it adds.