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Same-sex marriage hearing | The case so far

Code of Victorian morality was imposed on our inclusive culture: Supreme Court

CJI says though sexual attraction towards same gender persons existed for time immemorial, the push for legalising same sex marriage started only in 2002

April 27, 2023 08:23 pm | Updated April 28, 2023 09:21 am IST - NEW DELHI

A view of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi.

A view of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi. | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Supreme Court on April 27 said the ancient all-inclusive culture of India, which accepted same sex love, was stifled by the imposition of Victorian morality by the British Raj.

Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, heading a Constitution Bench, corrected the government’s perspective that though sexual attraction or orientation towards same gender persons has existed for time immemorial, the push for legalising same sex marriage started only in 2002.

“You may not be right there. It is the impact of British Victorian morality that we had to forsake much of our cultural ethos. If you go to some of our finest temples, you will see sculptures and artworks that you will never say are lurid. Ours has been an educative culture, a profound one. From 1857 and the framing of the Indian Penal Code, the code of Victorian morality was imposed on our inclusive, broad culture,” Chief Justice Chandrachud addressed Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the government.

The court said there was no legal bar to hold same sex wedding ceremonies even as the government said it recognised the right to love, to cohabit, to project one’s sexual orientation as a fundamental right, though to seek recognition of a same sex relationship as a marriage was not a fundamental right.

Explained | How has the Supreme Court interpreted ‘sex’ and ‘gender identity’ in the past?

“You can invite a group of 25 friends and have a marriage ceremony. There is no bar to any marriage ceremony. In the South, they tie a ‘thali’…” the court remarked.

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