Marriage for all, even if for a few

Source– The post is based on the article “Marriage for all, even if for a few” published in “The Hindu” on 12th May 2023.

Syllabus: GS1- Social issues. GS2- Polity

Relevance– Marriage rights for vulnerable communities

News – The Supreme Court began hearing the case for marriage equality within the ambit of the Special Marriage Act.

What are some facts about the parliamentary debate on the Special Marriage Act?

Member of Parliament, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, was one of the Bill’s proponents. She predicted that the law will not be supported by many but that the next generation would demand the right to choose their partners. The proposed law could improve the lives of women.

There was a perception among some Parliamentarians that allowing citizens to marry anyone of their choice could potentially lead to a collapse of society and civilisation. The Bill’s divorce provisions had raised fears of a proliferation of sexual desires.

Securing more rights for a large number of identities and desires can impose the ‘lifestyle’ of a few onto a majority that is not represented in these struggles.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad had bitterly opposed the Hindu Code Bill. As per him, the measure was forcing something on a vast majority, because a small, microscopic minority considered it a right.

What are issues with marriage equality for vulnerable sections of the population?

Indian polity and society still struggle with the idea of marriage reform and individual choice. Local and national politics have witnessed campaigns against inter-caste and inter-community couples.

Societal morality is given preference over rights afforded under the Act.

Vigilante groups have been empowered to prevent unions using extra-judicial methods. Queer couples may also face similar problems in future. Marriage is considered a social institution that upholds hierarchies based on gender, caste and community.

What is the way forward for marriage equality for vulnerable sections of the population?

Legal sanction may offer at least some relief. Social transformations are not easy. But, laws are unlikely to disrupt the lives of ‘vast majorities.

Some citizens may not be prepared for marriage equality. But law should have more potential than the public imagination. It should be aimed at improving the lives of the more marginalised.

Affording rights to a sexual minority reaffirms the rights of the citizenry as a whole.

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