Gay couple moves Kerala to the superior court to register the marriage

KOCHI: A gay couple approached on Monday in search of a judicial statement that gay couples have the right to register their marriages. Nikesh PP and Sonu MS also appealed to the court that a provision in the Special Marriage Law, which specifies that solemnization of marriage is only possible between a man and a woman, is declared unconstitutional.

Judge Anu Sivaraman, after hearing the petition (WP-C No. 2186/2020) presented by Nikesh and Sonu through defender George Varghese Perumpallikuttiyil, requested the views of the central and state governments on the matter.

Nikesh and Sonu were married in a private ceremony in September last year, but since the religious and temple authorities were not willing to solemnize the marriage, they decided to register their marriage under the Special Marriage Act. It is claimed that the petitioners had resorted to the secular law of this country and its Constitution after having been discriminated against because of religion and culture and the stereotypical homophobia they carry, said the couple's statement.

Applicant: exclusion from marriage resulted in denial of rights

To the surprise of the petitioners, the Special Marriage Act of 1954 and its provisions are also discriminatory because the Law only recognizes marriages between people belonging to the opposite sex, the couple's statement stated.

Section 4 of the Law has a heterosexual background, as it portrays marriage as a matter between men and women alone or between the bride and the groom. The forms attached to annexes number 2 and 4 of the Law have heterosexual nomenclature, the petitioners said. The couple's plea alleged that the statute, in effect, prevented homosexuals from requesting the solemnization or registration of the marriage.

The petitioners cited the 2018 Supreme Court ruling (Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India), which recognized a person's right to sexual identity and to be treated with dignity for that identity. Any law that contradicts this lack of respect for individual choice, concluded SC.

The petitioners indicated that they had suffered great public humiliation after revealing mutual love, but much greater was the insult and indignity they suffered when the law itself refused to recognize their union. They also said that the exclusion of the institution from marriage denied them ordinary rights and privileges such as the right to support, inheritance, joint bank accounts, lockers and the right to nominate each other in insurance, pensions, tips, etc.