Amid SC hearing, TMC, Left back same-sex marriages, many parties remain undecided
At an event on Thursday, TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee endorsed marriage equality.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Communist Party of India have come out in support of legal recognition for same-sex marriages but most other political parties maintain silence on the issue that is currently being heard bya Constitution bench of the Supreme Court. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is in power at the Centre, remains opposed to same-sex marriages and the Union government has argued that it is an urban and elitist concept that should be left to Parliament to legislate.
At an event on Thursday, TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee endorsed marriage equality. “India is a democratic country. Everyone has got the right to choose their own life partner. Love has no religion, love has no boundaries, love has no limit. I can choose a life partner of my choice. if I am a man and I am fond of a man and if I am a woman and I am fond of a woman, everyone has got the right to fall in love., to select, to choose. We take pride in the diversity that unites India,” said Banerjee,35, in response to a question on the hearing that began on Monday.
When asked whether this reflected the party’s stand, a party spokesperson called it “a fair assumption.’’ though chief minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters earlier this week that she will not comment on the issue until the top court’s verdict. To be sure, the party’s Rajya Sabha leader Derek O Brien has also given notice to introduce a private member bill on same-sex marriage in Parliament.
The CPI also supported the plea of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) petitioners for the legalisation of same-sex unions.
“The party stands with the democratic rights of the LGBTQ community.’’ Member of Parliament (MP) Benoy Vishwam said.
Last month, the party also issued a detailed statement. “The CPI urges the Supreme Court and the Government of India to fully protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. The BJP government is pulling back progress and subverting democracy in the country,’’ said the March 15 statement, referring to the Centre’s stand opposing same-sex unions.
The Congress refrained from taking a stand on the matter. The party’s communication in-charge Jairam Ramesh refused to respond to queries on the matter. Senior leader Abhishek Singhvi -- who is appearing for some petitioners in his capacity as a lawyer -- said, “Same sex marriage case has nothing to do with Congress. I am appearing pro bono for affected groups. Party may or may not take a view on this later. But till then, it is certainly not necessary for a political party like the Congress to take and declare its view on every important socio-legal issue.”
In the past, former party chief Rahul Gandhi has taken a supportive view of LGBTQ rights.
HT’s queries to the Aam Aadmi Party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Biju Janata Dal, the YSR Congress party, the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), the Nationalist Congress Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, among others, asking for their stance on same sex marriage, went unanswered.
Around 50 petitioners have approached the top court asking for legalisation of same-sex marriage, arguing that denying them the right to wed was unconstitutional and violative of their fundamental rights. If they succeed, India will become only the third country in Asia to allow same-sex unions, a mere five years after the court decriminalised homosexuality.