RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had said in January that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community has “the right to live as others”
By: Pramod Thomas
The ideological parent of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has backed the government’s stance against same-sex marriage recognition, months after raising hopes with supportive comments on gay rights.
The BJP government of prime minister Narendra Modi has opposed same-sex marriage and has urged the Supreme Court to reject challenges to the current legal framework lodged by LGBT couples.
Final arguments in the case are scheduled to begin on April 18 before a five-judge panel.
“Marriage can only take place between persons of opposite genders, we agree with the government’s stance on same-sex marriage,” the Press Trust of India news agency quoted Dattatreya Hosabale, a top official of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), as saying.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had said in January that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community “should have their own private and social space as they are humans and have the right to live as others”.
Although Bhagwat had not referred specifically to same-sex marriage, his comments could force the government to reassess its opposition, a junior minister in the federal government and a senior BJP leader had said at the time.
The RSS, established in 1925, is a powerful Hindu group estimated to have millions of active members across India and overseas. The organisation played a major role in Modi’s rise to power.
India decriminalised homosexuality when it scrapped a colonial-era ban on gay sex in 2018, but it remains a taboo topic in this socially conservative country of 1.4 billion.
The Modi government has argued that any change to the legal structure of marriage should be the domain of the elected parliament, not the court.
The Supreme Court started hearing petitions to recognise same-sex marriages after four gay couples stated that without legal recognition, they could not have access to rights such as those linked to medical consent, pensions, adoption or even club memberships.