India’s Solicitor General Says Same-Sex Marriage Not Permissible

A top lawyer for India’s federal government has opposed petitions to legalize gay marriage.

“My legal take is that it is not permissible,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said during a hearing in the Delhi High Court, though he added that he had yet to get instructions from the government on the issue. “Our law, our legal system, our society, our values do not recognize” same-sex marriages, Mehta said.

The case underscores the social conflicts in largely-conservative India where a small but vocal segment of people are now espousing more liberal values. In 2018 India’s Supreme Court overturned a colonial-era law to decriminalize homosexuality.

After Monday’s hearing, held over video conferencing, a two-judge panel of the high court adjourned the case for a preliminary hearing on Oct. 21. The judges asked whether seeking a declaration to legalize same-sex marriage in the public interest is permissible and directed the petitioners, who include gay rights activists, to place facts about their efforts to register such marriages.

The legal battle to decriminalize gay sex in India took almost two decades. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government declined to take a position on the issue and left the decision to the country’s top court.

Reforms in Hong Kong after same-sex spouse visas were allowed in 2018 havenudged other Asian economies to change policies to attract businesses and talent.

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