A prominent gay couple expressed their disappointment over the Supreme Court setback in the same-sex marriage matter, but vowed to “fight another day”.
Writer Ananya Kotia and lawyer Utkarsh Saxena exchanged rings in front of the Supreme Court today and announced their engagement.
The Supreme Court yesterday stopped short of legalising marriage equality, but stressed that an individual’s right to enter into a union cannot be restricted on the basis of sexual orientation. The five-judge bench came up with four judgments, differing primarily on the question of adoption rights for queer couples.
The judges asked the centre to proceed with the formation of a committee to address practical concerns of same-sex couples, such as getting ration cards, pension, gratuity and succession issues.
In a post on X today, Ananya Kotia said the “legal loss” they have suffered is in the past tense, and indicated they will not give up.
“Yesterday hurt. Today, Utkarsh Saxena and I went back to the court that denied our rights, and exchanged rings. So this week wasn’t about a legal loss, but our engagement. We’ll return to fight another day,” Ananya Kotia said in the post.
The post has a photo showing the gay couple exchanging rings in a garden, with the dome of the Supreme Court building in the background.
Yesterday hurt. Today, @utkarsh__saxena and I went back to the court that denied our rights, and exchanged rings. So this week wasn’t about a legal loss, but our engagement. We’ll return to fight another day. pic.twitter.com/ALJFIhgQ5I
— Kotia (@AnanyaKotia) October 18, 2023
The centre had on May 3 told the court that it plans to form a committee headed by the cabinet secretary to explore administrative solution to problems faced by same-sex couples without delving into the marriage equality question.
The bench gave a three-two judgment on the question of adoption rights. Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice SK Kaul recognised the right of queer couples to adopt, while Justice S Ravindra Bhat, Justice PS Narasimha and Justice Hima Kohli disagreed.
“There is a degree of agreement and a degree of disagreement on how far we have to go. I have dealt with the issue of judicial review and separation of powers,” Justice Chandrachud said.
Disagreeing with the centre’s argument that marriage equality is an urban, elite concept, the Chief Justice said, “Queerness is not urban elite. Homosexuality or queerness is not an urban concept or restricted to the upper classes of the society.”
Justice Bhat said the court cannot create a legal framework for queer couples and it is for the legislature to do as there are several aspects to be taken into consideration.
On the issue of adoption, Justice Bhat said they disagree with the Chief Justice on the right of queer couples to adopt. “We voice certain concerns. This is not to say that unmarried or non-heterosexual couples can’t be good parents… given the objective of section 57, the State as parens patriae has to explore all areas and to ensure all benefits reach the children at large in need of stable homes.”