India’s highest court refuses to legalize same-sex marriage, claiming it is not their responsibility.
The Supreme Court of India declined to pass a ruling on the issue, arguing that it was beyond their scope and needed to be taken to Parliament.
“This court can’t make law. It can only interpret it and give effect to it,” Chief Justice Dhananjaya Chandrachud said.
Same-sex marriage remains a contentious issue in Indian politics, where conservative social norms clash with international progressive movements.
The court’s decline leaves activists largely out of options — both the legislative and executive branches of the Indian government are functionally opposed to same-sex marriage.
“Today the court has reaffirmed that queer citizens will be relegated to an unsympathetic legislature and an apathetic executive. We are second-class citizens, no matter how many judicial platitudes say otherwise. We will rise in rage and protest,” said Rohin Bhatt, a lawyer on the case.
The five justices of the court were intensely divided on the issue, and four separate legal opinions were prepared, according to reports.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has vocally opposed same-sex marriage in India.
The government has previously stated that gay marriage is not “comparable with the Indian family unit concept of a husband, a wife and children.”
Indian nationalists have also characterized homosexual unions as an “urban” and “elite” phenomenon of the West.
The Supreme Court legalized homosexuality in 2018 by striking down a ban originally instituted under British colonial rule.
Before the ruling, gay sex was punishable with up to a decade behind bars.