Is Same-Sex Marriage Legal in India ?

Bombay Dost

Same-Sex Marriage in India : In recent years, the world has witnessed significant progress in the recognition and acceptance of same-sex relationships. However, the legal landscape surrounding same-sex marriage varies widely from country to country. 

In India, same-sex couples are not acknowledged through registered marriages or civil unions. However, a Supreme Court ruling in August 2022 grants them certain rights and benefits similar to those enjoyed by cohabiting couples, allowing them to be recognized as live-in partners.

Is Same-Sex Marriage Legal in India ?

This article explores the current state of same-sex marriage in India, a nation with a rich cultural and historical heritage.

Historical Background

India has a long and complex history when it comes to sexuality and gender identity. Traditionally, Indian society has been conservative in its views on homosexuality, influenced by cultural, religious, and colonial legacies. The colonial-era Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalized homosexual activities, stigmatizing and marginalizing the LGBTQ+ community for decades.

Legal Decriminalization

In a landmark decision in September 2018, the Supreme Court of India decriminalized consensual same-sex relations by striking down Section 377. The ruling was hailed as a significant victory for LGBTQ+ rights in the country, acknowledging the inherent dignity and equality of all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Recognition of Rights

While same-sex relationships are no longer criminalized, it is important to note that the decriminalization of homosexuality does not automatically grant same-sex couples the right to marry or enjoy the same legal benefits as heterosexual couples. In India, marriage laws are primarily governed by personal laws, which differ based on an individual's religion.

Legal Challenges

Currently, same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in India. The Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, introduced in 2017, sought to amend various marriage-related laws to include same-sex couples, but it has not been passed into law yet. 

Consequently, same-sex couples in India face several challenges in areas such as 

  • inheritance rights, 
  • spousal benefits, and 
  • adoption.

Progressive Rulings 

Although same-sex marriage is not yet legal, Indian courts have shown a progressive approach in recognizing the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals. 

In several cases, courts have upheld the right to choose a partner and enjoy the same privileges as heterosexual couples. These rulings have laid the foundation for future legal reforms and increased societal acceptance.

Public Opinion and Social Change

Public attitudes toward same-sex relationships in India have been evolving slowly. There is a growing acceptance among younger generations, fueled by increased visibility, education, and awareness campaigns. 

Civil society organizations, activists, and the LGBTQ+ community have been instrumental in driving this change, advocating for equal rights and challenging societal norms.

The Way Forward

The journey towards legal recognition of same-sex marriage in India is ongoing. It requires a comprehensive approach that involves legislative reforms, awareness campaigns, and fostering inclusive social attitudes. 

There is a need for dialogue and engagement among policymakers, legal experts, and community representatives to address the legal gaps and challenges faced by same-sex couples.


While India has taken significant strides towards equality for the LGBTQ+ community by decriminalizing same-sex relationships, the battle for legal recognition of same-sex marriage continues. 

The country's legal framework and societal attitudes are slowly evolving, but there is still work to be done. With continued efforts and collective support, India has the potential to become a beacon of inclusivity, embracing the diversity of its people and ensuring equal rights for all.

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