‘Crushed hopes’, ‘huge setback’: Disappointment across front pages after same-sex marriage verdict

Editorials were also in sync in major English newspapers this morning.

WrittenBy:NL Team
The Supreme Court against a background of protesters waving rainbow flags.

The Supreme Court yesterday did not rule in favour of same-sex marriages in India, leaving it instead to the legislature. 

The five-judge bench, comprising CJI DY Chandrachud and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, S Ravindra Bhat, Hima Kohli and PS Narasimha, delivered four judgements. While the CJI and Justice Kaul were in favour of civil unions, the other three judges were not.

Front pages today captured the disappointment following the verdict.

“Same-sex marriage will have to wait” said the headline of Indian Express’s lead story on page 1. It said the apex court “declined to strike down or tweak provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954, saying there is no ‘fundamental right’ to marriage and a same-sex couple cannot claim it as a fundamental right under the Constitution”.

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The newspaper had an editorial on the verdict, headlined “Door is ajar”.

“The court did not go far enough even as it has prised open some space and widened the room for manoeuvre for an embattled minority. Its categorical no to same sex marriage can also be said to make many of its empathetic observations on rights and discrimination seem like tokenism,” it said.

The Hindu’s top story on page 1 of its Delhi edition was the verdict too, saying the bench failed to reach a consensus on legal recognition despite “unanimously accepting that it was time to end discrimination against same-sex couples”.

A report on page 2 quoted one of the petitioners in the case as saying, “None of the observations made by the Chief Justice of India will help me in my daily struggles – when I am denied entry into a hospital, say, or when my friend or partner is in a critical condition.”

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The Hindu’s editorial called the verdict a “huge legal setback for the queer community in the country”.

“In concluding that there is no fundamental right to marry, the Court has negated the expectation that it would not allow discrimination against same-sex couples in the marital domain to continue,” it said. “...The right to seek social and legal validation through marriage is a matter of individual choice protected by the Constitution, but the Court still views it as being subject to statutory limitations.”

Hindustan Times said the ruling “crushed the hopes of some 50-odd petitioners”. It also reported on “heartbreak and pain” among the queer community following the verdict. 

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Its editorial said the apex court’s “refusal to accord even limited recognition to queer couples and leave it instead to executive fiat is disappointing”.

“The Union has promised to set up a committee headed by the cabinet secretary to look into these issues. But without a charter or specific guidelines to streamline its deliberations...outcomes will likely be shaped by political expediency. The petitioners have reason to be dejected,” it said.

The Telegraph in Kolkata, of course, minced no words on page 1. A second story quoted queer activists on their disappointment at the “overwhelmingly negative” verdict.

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The Times of India in Delhi said the bench “disappointed the hopeful faces in the courtroom with a unanimous ruling that the right to marry was not a fundamental right and the legislature had the power to regulate it in accordance with societal conditions”.

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A smaller story said this was a “big setback to a lifetime of work put into the struggle by the community”.

An editorial said the petitioners were not seeking “religious validation or social approval” but the “rights of a civil union” – and the judges “only had to make these rights available to all”.

“SC’s core job is to uphold constitutional rights, irrespective of popular endorsement or social custom. It could have affirmed constitutional principles, and then left it to the legislature to do its job,” it said.

Also see
article image3 judges oppose, 2 in favour: Ball in Parliament’s court after SC verdict on same-sex marriages
article imageIn search of pride: Why India needs to start talking about LGBTQ+ issues


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