03/30/2023, 18.48
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Indian religious leaders tell the Supreme Court to say no to same-sex marriages

by Nirmala Carvalho

The first hearing on a petition asking for the legalisation is scheduled for 18 April. While admitting various forms of union in society, India’s government has already expressed its opposition. In a letter to the chief justice of the Supreme Court and to the president, representatives of different faiths call for the request to be rejected.

Delhi (AsiaNews) – A number of religious leaders from different faiths have expressed their opposition to the legalisation of same-sex marriage in India, describing such action as an “aggression on the larger concerns of human society.”

The issue has been a source of public discussion for a while; in fact, Card Oswald Gracias spoke about in 2013. However, it is back in the news recently following a petition filed by some advocacy groups, which is set to be heard by the Supreme Court of India on 18 April.

India decriminalised homosexuality in 2018, repealing a section in the British-era Penal Code that criminalised same-sex relations. For India’s LGBTQ+ community, allowing same-sex marriage would be a further step forward in terms of recognition of rights and freedoms.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has already expressed itself on the subject earlier this month, reiterating its firm opposition to the recognition of same-sex marriage and asking the Court to reject any application in this sense.

While acknowledging various forms of union in society, even between homosexuals, the government insists, in a statement issued by the Justice Ministry, that marriage should remain restricted to heterosexual couples with the family defined as “a husband, a wife and children”.

Ten years ago Card Gracias explained that while the Church has always opposed "the legalisation of gay marriage,” it “has never been opposed to the decriminalization of homosexuality, because we have never considered gay people criminals”.

In fact, the Church upholds the principle that “homosexuals have the same dignity of every human being and condemns all forms of unjust discrimination, harassment or abuse."

Today other religious leaders released separate open letters sent to the Chief Justice of India, Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, and to the President of India Droupadi Murmu. In it they state that any attempt to give legal recognition to same-sex marriage would wreak havoc in the legal system and social structure.

The Communion of Churches in India has "reservations" on this matter. In his letter to the president, its executive secretary, Prakash P Thomas, writes: “In Christian belief, marriage is a divine institution made by God. We cannot accept the union of two homosexuals as marriage. Therefore we request your kind attention to ensure the existing status quo of marriage.”

The Grand Mufti of India Sheikh Abubakr Ahmad writes that “any form of marital relationship” that is not between man and woman "is against natural law and impermissible”. In his view, “any attempt to provide legal protection to same-sex relationships [. . .] is an aggression on the larger concerns of human society.”

Finally, a Jain priest, Acharya Lokesh Muni, views granting legal recognition to homosexual unions as inappropriate. “There is diversity in India,” he writes, “But in Indian culture and in Jainism in particular, marriage is considered as the basis for taking forward a family lineage. Legalising same-sex marriage will be detrimental to tradition-based Indian culture.”

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