Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage in India: A Long Road Ahead






The concept of same-sex marriages has been a topic of debate worldwide for decades. While some countries have recognized and legalized same-sex marriages, India is yet to do so. India’s stance on same-sex marriage has been underlined by the conservative outlook of its society and the various legislations in the country, which do not permit such marriages. However, there is a growing awareness and advocacy to legalize same-sex marriages in India. This article will delve deeper into India’s legal, social, and cultural complexities surrounding same-sex marriages and the reasons why India needs to recognize same-sex marriages.

Legal Hurdles

The legal system in India is based on British colonial laws, and most of the country’s legal system is still rooted in those laws. As per Indian law, marriage is a union between a man and a woman. Under the Hindu Marriage Act, marriage is defined as a “solemnization between the bridegroom and the bride.” This legal definition makes it impossible for same-sex marriages to take place as they do not conform to the criterion set by the Act. Other religious laws in the country, such as the Muslim Personal Law, also do not recognise same-sex marriages.

Furthermore, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalises homosexuality, making it an offence punishable by law. This section was struck down by the Delhi High Court in 2009, but the decision was overturned by the Supreme Court of India in 2013. It was only in 2018 that the Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality, stating that it was a violation of an individual’s constitutional rights. However, the decriminalisation of homosexuality did not equate to legalising same-sex marriages.

Social and Cultural Complexities

India is a deeply conservative society, and a majority of the population still holds traditional views on marriage and relationships. For many Indians, the idea of same-sex marriages goes against their cultural and religious beliefs. Moreover, homosexuality is still a taboo subject in many parts of the country, and the LGBTQ+ community still faces discrimination and prejudice.

A large part of the population still views homosexuality as a mental disorder and a threat to the institution of marriage. Such deep-seated prejudices and beliefs make it challenging to even initiate dialogue on the matter, leave alone gaining acceptance for same-sex marriages. The media has also been guilty of sensationalising the issue, further fuelling negative attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community.

Advances in LGBTQ+ Rights

Despite legal and social hurdles, there have been significant advances in recent years in recognizing LGBTQ+ rights in India. With the landmark decision of the Supreme Court decriminalising homosexuality in 2018, the Indian government acknowledged the basic human rights of the LGBTQ+ community. Moreover, various non-governmental organisations and civil society groups have been working towards spreading awareness and advocating for LGBTQ+ rights in the country.

Various court cases have also been filed challenging the legal definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. For example, in the Navtej Singh Johar case in 2018, the Supreme Court stated that “to deny LGBT community their right to sexual orientation is a denial of their citizenship and a violation of their privacy.” This judgment laid the foundation for future cases challenging the legality of same-sex marriages.

Need For Recognition

Legalising same-sex marriages in India would be an essential step towards recognising the equal rights of the LGBTQ+ community. It would enable same-sex couples to enjoy the same legal rights and protection as heterosexual couples, such as inheritance rights, social security benefits, and access to medical care. Moreover, legalising same-sex marriages would go a long way in removing the stigma and discrimination that the LGBTQ+ community faces in Indian society.

Recognising same-sex marriages would also place India on par with other progressive nations that have already taken this step. Progressive countries such as Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom have legalised same-sex marriages, and it is time for India to follow suit.


Legalising same-sex marriages in India is a significant step towards ensuring the equal rights and protection of the LGBTQ+ community. However, accomplishing this goal will require a massive shift in the legal and cultural landscape of the country. Education, awareness, and advocacy will play a crucial role in pushing for the recognition of same-sex marriages. It is time for India to adopt a more liberal and inclusive outlook towards the LGBTQ+ community and recognise same-sex marriages as a fundamental human right.


– Hindu Marriage Act (1955)

Muslim Personal Law

Indian Penal Code (1860)

Naz Foundation vs. Government of NCT of Delhi (2009)

Suresh Kumar Koushal vs. Naz Foundation (2013)

Navtej Singh Johar vs. Union of India (2018)

The Supreme Court of India (2018), decriminalising homosexuality

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