For the first time in India, a court of law will decide whether a same-sex union is valid under the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, the Indian Express reports.
There have been several reports of gay marriages taking place in India over the past few years, in the lead-up and aftermath of the repeal of the section of the Indian penal code that made homosexuality a criminal offense in July 2009. But it is doubtful that any of these unions was backed by a legal marriage registration. (Incidentally, neither are most Indian marriages performed by religious leaders).
According to the Express, Justice Rajan Gupta of Punjab and Haryana High Court has sought a response from Haryana on the plea of a same-sex couple seeking protection from their families after having married unofficially.
The two women, who met three years ago and have considered themselves to be married for the past year, petitioned the HC on Tuesday after the Ambala Cantonment police rejected their request for protection saying that “recognizing this type of alliance would create anarchy," the paper said.
The two women, who left their respective husbands to be with each other, reportedly said that they fear their families have hired contract killers to murder them.
There does appear to be some leeway for Haryana to provide protection to the women without recognizing their marriage as legal, as the grounds that the judge cited apparently do not include an explicit endorsement of gay marriage as a constitutional right, however.
The paper said that Justice Gupta directed the government to consider the women’s request, observing that the “state is duty bound to protect life and liberty of citizens under Article 21”. The government’s opposed the petition, submitting that “no such marriage between persons belonging to same sex is recognised by the Hindu Marriage Act or any other enactment.”