A proposed major legal overhaul in India could pave the way for same-sex marriage.
The change could come if India goes ahead with the a plan to implement a Uniform Civil Code. Currently, each of country’s many different religious groups has follows laws according to their respective religions.
A Uniform Civil Code would scrap that and create a common public law for all citizens. The Uniform Civil Code would apply to laws surrounding marriage, inheritance, divorce and parenting.
Equal rights in marriage
In 2016 India’s Law Commission asked a group of esteemed citizens to research a draft proposal for the proposed code.
The group submitted its proposal this week and it found current laws are ‘not always equitable and fair and do discriminate on the grounds of sex, gender and sexuality’.
The draft proposal said the civil code would ensure ‘equal rights in marriage, divorce, child custody, guardianship, inheritance and succession… irrespective of their gender, sex and sexuality, religious or cultural traditions or beliefs’.
Some of the recommendations said the ‘sexual orientation of a married couple or a couple living in a partnership will not be a bar to their right to adopt a child’.
Uniform Civil Code
Introducing a Uniform Civil Code has been a controversial idea for people who are worried about protecting their religious freedoms. But minority groups have long called for it to increase their protection under the law.
Article 44 of the Indian Constitution actually calls for the country to have a Unform Civil Code.
‘The State shall endeavour to secure for citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India,’ it reads.
Singer TM Krishna was one of the members of the group who submitted the proposals to the Law Commission.
‘Under the present political dispensation there has been a conscious attempt to use it to create a Hindu majoritarian country,’ he told The Indian Express.
‘The targets of such an agenda are the minorities, which include religious, sexual and socially marginalised citizens of India whom they want to homogenise as per upper-caste Hindu norms.
‘We have therefore proposed a UCC that is progressive, forward thinking and creative. It looks at the wonderful possibilities that exist in such an idea.
‘We need a UCC that rejoices in humanity, a law that attempts to equalise the inequalities inherent in our society, a code that celebrates and protects every individual, their rights, faiths, sexualities and choices.’