Law Insider India

Legal News, Current Trends and Legal Insight | Supreme Court of India and High Courts

Delhi High Court issues notice on pleas seeking recognition of transgender and lesbian marriages

2 min read

Anushka Sharma-

Published on: December 1, 2021 at 20:58  IST

On Tuesday, the Delhi High Court issued notices to the Central Government in two cases seeking recognition of transgender and lesbian couples’ marriages.

The petitions were bundled with a batch of complaints concerning the recognition and registration of same-sex weddings in the country. The Petitions are scheduled for hearing on February 3 by a Division Bench led by Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh.

Zainab Patel, who works as a Director (Inclusion and Diversity) at KPMG India, has submitted a petition to legalize transgender marriages. Patel is also the chair of FICCI’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee’s LGBTQIA+ subgroup and a member of the National Council for Transgender Persons.

“Denying transgender persons the right to marry a person of their choice – whatever may be their gender identity or sexual orientation, and the gender identity and sexual orientation of their partner- relegates the Petitioner and crores of Transgender persons to second class citizenship. It makes a mockery of the constitutional and statutory protections extended to transgender persons, after decades of struggle,” her Petition states.

Patel submits that she and her husband/partner entered into a civil union in South Africa in the year 2016, before she transitioned, but despite her best effort could not get the Indian government to recognize her civil union.

“Like all persons, transgender persons aspire to form loving and committed relationships that are recognized and nurtured by society and by law,” the plea states.

It is contended that the Supreme Court has recognized the rights of transgender persons in NALSA v. Union of India and hence, today, the law ought to recognize her civil union.

The Union’s own Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, recognises transgender people in the gender of their choice, prohibits discrimination in education and employment, and establishes the National Council for Transgender People, according to the petition. The petition asks for a declaration that Article 21 of the Indian Constitution’s right to marry a person of one’s choice applies with full force to transgender and other LGBT people.

A further directive has been sought to declare that the provisions of matrimonial statutes, including the rules and regulations enacted thereunder, to the extent that they are construed as requiring one’male’ or ‘bridegroom’ and one ‘female’ or ‘bride’ for the solemnization of marriage, be read as gender-neutral.

All marriages between couples in which either one or both partners are transgender or gender non-conforming or who otherwise do no identify with the sex assigned to them at birth, may be solemnized under matrimonial statutes regardless of their gender identity and sexual orientation,” Patel prays.

The Bench also heard the petition filed by a lesbian couple that claimed to have solemnized their marriage in Varanasi.