India Supreme Court declines to legalise same-sex marriage

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India’s Supreme Court has declined to legalise same-sex unions, dashing the hopes of millions of LGBTQ+ people seeking marriage equality.

The court instead accepted the government’s offer to set up a panel to consider granting more legal rights and benefits to same-sex couples.

Activists and same-sex couples said they were disappointed by the judgement and would continue their campaign.

The court was considering 21 petitions by same-sex couples and activists.

The five-judge bench had held extensive hearings in April and May and the deliberations were “livestreamed in public interest”.

The petitioners had argued that not being able to marry violated their constitutional rights and made them “second-class citizens”.

They had suggested that the court could just replace “man” and “woman” with “spouse” in the Special Marriage Act – which allows marriage between people from different religions, castes and countries – to include same-sex unions.

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