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Why are same-sex couples not allowed to marry and adopt in India?

According to the 2011 Census, India had more than 20 million orphans, and a significant number of them were living in institutions or on the streets. Twelve years later, the numbers have only increased. It is through adoption that they can receive stability and love from their adoptive parents which is necessary for their overall well-being. In India, anyone over the age of 25, regardless of their citizenship, gender, or marital status can adopt a child. However, same-sex couples, who are often the most willing to provide them with a loving home are not allowed to adopt them.


Amidst the Supreme Court hearing on same-sex marriage in India, the topic of adoption must be tackled. Despite the need for more adoptive families, same-sex couples are barred from adopting children due to the prevailing conservative social and cultural norms in India. According to research, marriage improves the financial, psychological, and physical well-being of LGBT people, and children of same-sex parents are better off growing up in marriages that are recognised by the state and supported by societal institutions. 


The issue of same-sex marriage and adoption is not just a matter of individual rights, but also a question of social justice. It is a well-established fact that children who grow up in loving and stable families are more likely to have better outcomes in life, including higher levels of education, better physical and mental health, and a stronger sense of social belonging. Denying same-sex couples, live-in or married, the opportunity to adopt children not only harms these couples but also deprives the children of a chance to have a nurturing and supportive family.


Senior Advocate KV Vishwanathan raised an extremely valid argument during the hearing, “Centre says that by our very nature, we cannot procreate. Is procreation a valid defence from keeping us from the effects of marriage? None of the marriage statutes prescribe any upper limit for marriage. Women beyond 45, who are unfit for pregnancy, are allowed to marry. Heterosexual couples who cannot have children are allowed to marry." 


Before the hearing even began, The Indian Psychiatric Society, which is the largest organisation of psychiatrists in India, showed their support in favour of the issue, pointing out in a press release that homosexuality is not a disorder. They argued that individuals belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community should have the same rights as any other Indian citizen. More importantly, the press release made clear that there is no proof that same-sex parents are incapable of adopting or raising their children.


Currently, only 34 countries in the world have legalised same-sex marriage. There are lesser countries that allow them to adopt, as the laws and regulations regarding same-sex adoption can vary widely by country, and the extent of the provision to adopt can vary as well. 


The Supreme Court's decision on the issue of same-sex marriage in India is eagerly awaited, as it has the potential to transform the lives of millions of people. Perhaps, they will also decide on same-sex adoption. It is hoped that the Court will take a progressive and inclusive stance, recognising the inherent worth and dignity of every individual, and upholding the principles of equality and justice for all.

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Tags: #supremecourt #samesexmarriage #samesexadoption


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