Same-sex marriage verdict: SC should have given Parliament timelines, says Celina Jaitly

An LGTBQ community champion for years Jaitly spoke about how the SC’s decision doesn't pressure the Parliament to enact any legislation making the process tedious and not a priority

Celina Jaitly (Photo: National Herald archives)
Celina Jaitly (Photo: National Herald archives)

Subhash K Jha

The Supreme Court’s (SC) decision to not legitimise same-sex marriage has made Celina Jaitly unhappy. A champion for the LGTBQ community for years Jaitly spoke about the SC’s decision.

Says Jaitly: “Just as the honourable CJI said, it is for the Parliament to decide whether there is need for a change in the regime of the Special Marriage Act. I was constantly hoping the most basic of all human rights is not looked over due to technical jargons within legalities.”

But her worst fears came true, says Jaitly. "In a diverse country like ours where marriages and civil unions are massively dictated by religion and cultural perceptions it was the moral responsibility of the court to at least pass the decision on to the Parliament with clear-cut mandate, directives  or timelines for it to act. Without these mandates, there is no pressure on the Parliament to enact any legislation and this makes the process tedious and not a priority.”

However, Jaitly has not lost hope. “In Tuesday’s decision also, there is a light at the end of the tunnel the court accepted the government’s offer to set up a special panel that will explore granting social and legal benefits to same-sex couples. I think that is a step definitely in the positive direction.”

Jaitly is determined to keep fighting for the rights of the gay community. “I have been a part of a movement for over two decades since I was in school, from the time the LGBTQ were criminalised under section 377. I have seen firsthand that ultimately democracy prevailed. We will continue to fight for equality and this too shall pass. I have said this repeatedly as an LGBT activist for the past twenty years and even at my post at the United Nations: There is no subset of rights or new category of rights called ‘LGBT rights’. LGBTQ people are entitled to the same rights as everyone else – among them the right to life, the right to be free from discrimination, rights to privacy and to freedom of expression, association and assembly and of course marriage/civil union and right to the institution of family. The reality is that these rights, which are universally recognised and agreed, are routinely being denied to people just because they happen to be -- or are assumed to be -- gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex. That is something we have a duty to acknowledge and address in a concerted way. Not giving a human being the very basic requirement of marriage and right to institution of family merely because of their orientation is indeed against the principle of the core values of a democracy.”

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