India awaits top court verdict on same-sex marriages

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s top court will deliver a verdict on Tuesday on granting legal recognition to same-sex marriages, a ruling that has the potential to spark momentous changes in the world’s most populous country.

The case is seen as a milestone event for LGBTQ rights in India, following a historic 2018 judgement by the Supreme Court that scrapped a colonial-era ban on gay sex.

Only Taiwan and Nepal allow same-sex unions in Asia, where largely conservative values still dominate politics and society.

A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice of India heard arguments in the case between April and May and reserved its order on May 11.

The Supreme Court website showed late on Monday that the verdict is due to be pronounced on Tuesday.

If legal recognition is granted, the ruling will bring about significant changes in the largely conservative Indian society, as family laws may need to be redefined.

The Indian government has opposed these appeals, calling them “urban elitist views” and stating that the parliament is the right platform to debate the matter.

It has also said that such marriages are not “comparable with the Indian family unit concept of a husband, a wife and children.”

Members of India’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community (LGBTQ) say they face discrimination despite the 2018 judgement, and that the absence of legal backing for same-sex marriages violates their constitutional rights.

(This story has been refiled to change date of judgment reservation to May 11 from May 12 in paragraph 4)

(Reporting by Shivam Patel; Arpan Chaturvedi; Editing by Bill Berkrot)