The United States has called on India to take steps to ensure equal legal protection for same-sex couples and is closely monitoring the response of the Indian government in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision not to legalize same-sex marriage, according to an announcement by the US State Department on Thursday.
In a ruling on Tuesday, India’s highest court opted not to legalize same-sex marriage, instead deferring the matter to the parliament, concurring with the stance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government that the legislature is the appropriate forum for addressing this issue. This unanimous decision by a five-judge panel came as a disappointment to the substantial LGBTQ community in the world’s most populous nation, occurring five years after the court revoked a colonial-era ban on homosexual acts.
A spokesperson from the US State Department confirmed, “The United States is a proponent of marriage equality on a global scale. We are closely monitoring the actions taken by the government and the responses from civil society in the aftermath of the court’s decision.”
The Modi-led nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government had opposed the pleas presented to the court on this matter, asserting that same-sex marriage does not align with the traditional Indian family structure of a husband, a wife, and children.
The State Department spokesperson further stated, “We will persist in expressing our support for marriage equality and protections for LGBTQI individuals against discrimination, and we encourage the Indian government to enact the necessary measures to ensure equal legal protection for same-sex couples.”
Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud, remarked on Tuesday that the role of the Supreme Court is to interpret and enforce the law, not to create it.
In a region where conservative values still hold sway in many nations, Asia lags behind the Western world in terms of embracing same-sex marriage.
The US State Department stressed that it regularly engages with the Indian government on human rights issues, including those related to LGBTQ rights. Previous reports from the State Department have raised concerns about the treatment of religious minorities, journalists, and dissidents in India, despite New Delhi’s denial of such discrimination.