New Delhi: The Centre on Thursday told the Delhi High Court that living together as same-sex partners is not comparable with the Indian concept of a family unit.
The government stated this in a counter affidavit filed on petitions filed by same-sex couples seeking enforcement of fundamental right of choice of partner.
"Despite the decriminalisation of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, the petitioners cannot claim a fundamental right for same-sex marriage," the government further said.
In India, marriage is a bond between a biological man and a biological woman, it added.
One of the couples had sought direction from the court to declare that the Special Marriage Act, 1954, ought to apply to all couples regardless of their gender identity and sexual orientation.
The couple, an Indian citizen and an Overseas Citizen of India, are gay and married in Washington DC, US, in 2017; they stated in their petition that the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969, in as much as it discriminates against same-sex couples by denying legal recognition of their marriage, is ultra vires of the Constitution of India.
The pleas filed through advocates Arundhati Katju, Govind Manoharan, Surabhi Dhar and argued by senior advocate Menaka Guruswamy stated that like any other couple, "the petitioners want their relationship to be blessed and sanctified by society and by law."
"Marriage offers both legal protection and social recognition of the commitment, support and security a couple offer each other, which are even more important in these times of the Covid-19 pandemic," the petition pointed out.
The petitioners have pointed out that Hindu Marriage Act does not distinguish between heterosexual and homosexual marriage if one were to go by how it has been worded. It very clearly states that marriage can indeed be solemnised between 'any two Hindus'.
“In this view of the matter, it can be stated that it is against the constitutional mandate of non-arbitrariness if the said right is not extended to homosexual apart from heterosexual couples,” the petition has said.
Two other petitioners, both women, aged 47 and 36, have contended that not being allowed to get married deprives them of several rights -- liking owning a house, opening a bank account, family life insurance -- which opposite sex couples take for granted