Same-sex couple approaches Delhi HC seeking recognition of marriage

A same-sex couple has approched the Delhi High Court seeking legal recognition of their marriage under the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969. The petitioners, an Indian citizen and an Overseas Citizen of India, are two gay men who got married in Washington DC, United States in 2017.

The petitioners claimed that they had approached the Indian consulate at New York to register their marriage under the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969 on March 5, 2020, but the consulate refused the application for registration on grounds of their sexual orientation.

The Indian consulate would have registered the marriage of any similarly placed opposite sex couple, the plea stated. The petition was listed before a single-judge bench of Justice Navin Chawla on Thursday, who referred the matter to an appropriate division bench for next week.

The petitioners submitted that the respondents’ refusal to register the marriage of the petitioners, who are a samesex couple, is violating Articles 14, 15, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India. Further, the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969 in as much as it discriminates against same-sex couples by denying legal recognition of their marriage is ultra vires Articles 14, 15, 19 and 21 of the Constitution, and ought to be read down to extend to same-sex couples, the plea said.

The plea said the petitioners’ marriage was officiated by Judge Srinivas, the Chief United States Circuit Judge for the US Court of Appeals of District of Columbia Circuit and is valid under US laws.It said that before the pandemic, the petitioners regularly visited India annually during Diwali and Dussehra festivals but amidst the lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic, all foreigners including OCI cardholders were restricted from entering the country.

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