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EFFECT OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGES ON INTER-CASTE MARRIAGES IN INDIA

INTRODUCTION

In today’s current era the scope the modernity has widened to the extent that the legal rights of the LGBTQ+ community are also in the pools of the trending Indian matters through same-sex marriage. On 6th September 2018, the honorable Supreme Court decriminalized Section 377[1] of the IPC to ensure the rights of homosexuals. The matter again has become emerging when twenty petitions were filed before the Supreme Court of India. It challenged the provisions of the Special Marriage Act, of 1954, the Hindu Marriage Act, of 1955, and the Foreign Marriage Act, of 1969. On the other side, Inter-caste marriages in India are also one of the leading societal matters. India has different caste divisions. When there is a marriage between parties belonging to two different castes, it is termed to be an Inter-caste marriage. This blog aims to deliver my general and speculative analysis of what impact will Same-sex marriages made on Inter-caste marriages if they get recognized in India.

EXPLORING THE SCOPE OF SAME-SEX AND INTER-CASTE MARRIAGES

“Same-Sex marriage is equivalent to the practice of marriage between the same gender i.e. between two males or two females”[2]. These marriages are legalized and banned in many countries. In the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, U.S.A., etc the presence of same-sex marriages is legally valid[3]. In Obergefell v. Hodges[4], the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that such marriages are also counted as the fundamental right to marry. In India, the proceedings have concluded but the final decision regarding the same-sex marriages is still pending before the top court.

The caste system in India is very old to get practiced in India. It was very dominating in the historical times of India Society where the majority of marriages were endogamous in nature. Endogamous marriages used to commence the marriage between men and women belonging to the same group. Inter-caste marriages follow the notion of exogamous marriages where the marriage takes place between a male and female belonging to two distinct caste groups. As per the societal concept, Inter-caste marriages are hugely opposed. People favored that marriage should not exceed the caste hierarchy. In Lata Singh v. State of U.P. & Another, the Supreme Court ensured the administration/ police authorities that no couple under Inter-caste or Inter-religion marriage made harassed. In case of violence, harassment, or any threat, the authorities have to take action in the form of criminal proceedings[5].

ROLE OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGES FOR THE INTER-CASTE MARRIAGES

The impact of Same-Sex marriages could be high on the reach of Inter-caste marriages. However, the general and speculative effect of these marriages on society can be elucidated on the parameters of Equality, Love & Affection, and Societal norms.

  • The notion of Equality may be diversified in the society which recognizes the rights of the LGBTQ+ Community. Chief Justice DY Chandrachud also opposed the statement made that the legislative intent of our legislature is throughout has been the marriage between one man and a woman. He said that the concept of male and female cannot be absolute, it is far more complex. Only genitals cannot be considered.

Through this, society may be able to recognize the importance of Article 14[6], Article 15[7] , and Article 21[8] of the Indian Constitution which would further magnify the ray of the Inter-caste marriages. It may work to break the societal barriers of the caste system where people are made to marry each other within the same caste group.

  • The legalization of same-sex marriages may also lead to the extension of the definition of love and affection. Love does not only include the relationship between a male and a female. It may be done with anybody to whom you choose irrespective of gender. It would magnify the rationality in the surroundings which can emphasize the society to also understand that opposing the Inter-caste marriages equates to limiting the definition of love. Men and women from varied caste groups can also love and maintain the matrimonial relationship. It would abolish the stereotypical thinking of society and break the caste hierarchy to uphold the freedom of choice in marriage under Article 21[9] of the Constitution of India.
  • The change in policy creates a change in the minds of people. In case, if Same-sex marriages get recognized in India, a gradual shift would take in the thinking of society. This may also lead to the wider acceptance of Inter-caste marriages where people would realize the importance of such marriages. It would lead to ignorance of caste discrimination and the priority of caste differences over love and compassion. The tolerance of society would get maximized for Inter-caste marriages.
  • The recognition of Same-sex marriages can also set an example for society. Same-sex couples may inspire people to follow their love beyond caste differences. It would lead to huge awareness among the people that love can also be practiced beyond the caste system. People would tend to realize that if couples in a same-sex marriage can be part of the social institution or marriage then the couples under Inter-caste marriages are so much more obvious to consider. Eventually, it would raise the reach of Inter-caste marriages. People will not hesitate to marry themselves in different casts if they intend to.

CONCLUSION

The Impact of Same-sex marriages on Inter-caste marriages can be proved legitimate through the legal perspective as it may further promote acceptance and equality for the LGBTQ+ community. This would also invoke the importance of couples who are seeking to engage with each other of different caste backgrounds. People would tend to understand the value of their legal rights and equality. This will gather enough importance of Inter-caste marriages throughout society. The extension in the definition of marriage would also take place where there will be both endogamous and exogamous marriages prevailing at a societal level. People will able to love whomever they want to irrespective of caste and gender. Hence, there may be a downfall in the marriage disputes between the couples with regards to divorce, maintenance, or other rights because they are entering the relationship mutually, not under the pressure of caste. However, the impact of Same-sex marriages on Inter-caste marriages may also get differ across different jurisdictions and contexts.

Author(s) Name: Aniruddh Atul Garg (GLA University, Mathura)

Reference(s):

[1] Indian Penal Code 1860, section 377

[2] BRITANNICA, https://www.britannica.com/topic/same-sex-marriage (last visited 7th June 2023).

[3] HINDUSTAN TIMES, https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/supreme-court-same-sex-marriage-hearing-list-of-countries-where-same-sex-marriage-is-legal-101681798846639.html (last visited 7th June 2023).

[4] Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015).

[5] Lata Singh v. State of U.P. & Another, 2006(5) SCC 475.

[6] Constitution of India 1950, art. 14

[7] Constitution of India 1950, art. 15

[8] Constitution of India 1950, art. 21

[9] Ibid