17th October 2023

India: Failure to legalise same-sex marriage a ‘setback’ for human rights

In response to today’s Supreme Court of India verdict which refused to grant legal recognition to same-sex marriage in the country leaving it for the Parliament to formulate necessary legislation, Aakar Patel, chair of board at Amnesty International India, said:

“This was indeed a historic missed opportunity for the Supreme Court of India to herald in a new era in what has been a long fight for equal rights of LGBTI people. All people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be able to enjoy the full range of human rights, including the right to marry.

“At the same time, the ruling on ending all discrimination against same-sex couples and expanding their rights is a positive step that sends a clear message to the Indian government that its laws on same-sex marriage are in urgent need of reform. Today’s verdict must be the springboard for the government to initiate a thorough review and overhaul of all laws, policies and practices that discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.

“It is imperative that the government does not delay in implementing this through the Committee proposed by the Supreme Court and accepted by the Solicitor General and ensure opportunities for meaningful public consultation on this important issue.

“The right to family life is a human right, and it must be protected for everyone without discrimination.”


In 2018, the Supreme Court of India had decriminalised consensual same-sex sexual o conduct in a landmark judgement.

In November 2022, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, Supriyo v. Union of India, challenging the government’s refusal to recognise same-sex marriages under the Special Marriage Act.

In April 2023, a five-judge bench, led by the Chief Justice of India started hearing the petitions.

In May 2023, the Solicitor General of India told the Supreme Court bench that a parliamentary committee would be formed to study providing limited legal rights to same-sex partners.

On 17 October, 2023, the Supreme Court said that while discrimination against same sex couples must end, now it is for the Parliament of India to decide on the legality of same sex marriage in the country.

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