‘Bharatiya marriage traditions’ threatened by legalisation of marriage equality, former high court judges claim in public statement

The statement by 21 retired high court judges refers to marriage equality as a ‘cancerous problem’ of the West and claims that any attempt at weakening the ‘Bharatiya marriage traditions’ and ‘family system’ should be vociferously opposed by society.

AS a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court is set to hear a batch of petitions on the legalisation of marriage equality next month, a group of 21 former high court judges, led by Justice S.N. Dhingra, a retired judge of the Delhi High Court, has come out with a public statement urging “conscious members of the society”, including the petitioners in the aforementioned matter, to refrain from pursuing the issue of marriage equality at the Supreme Court in the interest of “Indian society and culture”.

Referring to themselves as “conscientious and concerned citizens of India”, the judges have expressed their exasperation over the continuous onslaught against the basic tenets of “Bharatiya marriage traditions” and “family system”.

A five-judge Constitution bench is set to hear these petitions after the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice of India Dr D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala referred the matter to the larger bench, stating that the matter raises questions of constitutional importance.

The matter was last heard on March 18, and will now be heard on April 18.

The statement notes, “The people of the nation, hailing from various strata of society across regional and religious lines, are deeply shocked by this Western-tinted outlook that is being superimposed on Bharatiya society and culture to weaken the family system.”

According to the statement, in India, marriage is a socio-religious sacramental union between two individuals and families. Since time immemorial, it is understood that the purpose of marriage is not only confined to the physical intimacy of partners, it states. Marriage is indispensable for the growth of society by way of the procreation of progeny, it further avers.

These grounds to oppose the legalisation of marriage equality coincides with the affidavit of the Union government filed in this matter, which stated that marriage presupposes a union between a biological man as a ‘husband’ and a biological woman as a ‘wife’. It further said that a child born out of that union has to be necessarily reared by the biological man as the father and the biological woman as the mother.

Legalisation of marriage equality ‘an attack on independent India’ 

The statement claims that certain vested interest groups (referring to the petitioners) have no knowledge of and regard for the civilisational importance of marriage.

The judges refer to the legalisation of marriage equality as an attack on independent India.

It is an attack on our cultural roots by the superimposition of Western thoughts, philosophies and practices, which are “not viable for this nation at all”, the statement notes.

In this context, the judges say: “The cancerous problems that the West is facing are sought to be imported into Bharat by vested interest groups through the misuse of judiciary as an institution in the name of the right to choice.”

Legalisation of marriage equality leads to exponential rise in HIV infections

The judges’ statement also claims that same-sex union will lead to an increase in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected persons.

Citing data published by the United States’ Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in its HIV Surveillance Report (2019 and 2020), the statement claims “…that 70 percent of new HIV–AIDS incidence in the country was amongst gay and bisexual men.”

Thus, giving priority to the right to choice and personal liberty over the right to life may cause severe consequences in future, the statement observes.

Same-sex unions have negative consequences on children and families

Further, according to the judges, the legalisation of marriage equality will have negative consequences on children adopted by homosexual couples.

Referring to studies on the issue, the retired judges state that same-sex unions hinders emotional and psychological development as well as the nurturing of children because the environment is devoid of “balanced parenthood“.

“Same-sex marriage undercuts the procreative norm associated with marriage,” the statement reads.

It caters to individual emotional health at the cost of larger social health, and at the risk of significant population decline,” the statement further asserts.

Legalisation of marriage equality will strike at the very root of the family system and will have a devastating impact on the society at large, according to the former judges. They warn that “mindless attempts to ape the practices of the West in India, especially legalising same-sex marriage, would prove to be a death knell to the already crumbling family system.”

Entire gamut of personal laws will be compromised, let the legislature decide 

The former judges also remarked that recognition of marriage equality will impact adoption and succession laws in India.

The statement refers to “…serious concerns that the gene pool is going to be weakened, affecting the entire human race especially in terms of collective herd immunity and progressive evolution.”

It claims that judicial intervention is hasty and unfortunate, and totally unwarranted because there has been no discussion and deliberations amongst stakeholders.

Moreover, there is no vociferous demand from any section of society for legalisation of marriage equality. The law-making power is vested with the Parliament and not with the judiciary, especially in matters exclusively within social and political domain, the judges have mentioned.

The matter should be debated before the Parliament and the state legislatures, and the opinion of the society must be sought so that the law represents the wishes of the society and not of a “few elite sections of the society”, the statement concludes.

The statement has been signed by the following 21 former high court judges:

The Leaflet