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Familial relationships may take the form of … queer relationships: SC

Supreme court Queer Families

In a case, supreme court judges observed and acknowledged the existence of atypical [non-traditonal] families in Indian society. The apex court observation also mentioned that these families should be protected under the same law.

The court observed,

“Atypical families which are different from traditional family units also entitled to equal protection of the law- Familial relationships may take the form of domestic, unmarried partnerships or queer relationships.”

The members of the queer community are seeing this as an embarkment toward a more inclusive and liberal society. 

Deepika Singh Vs Central Administrative Tribunal and others

Deepika Singh, a nursing officer at PGIMER (Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Researc), Chandigarh filed a court case after being denied maternity leave.

According to Rule 43, of the Central Civil Services (Leave Rules) 1972,

A female Government servant (including an apprentice) with less than two surviving children may be granted maternity leave by an authority competent to grant leave for a period of (135 days) from the date of its commencement.

The entire document can be accessed here: https://dopt.gov.in/sites/default/files/ccs_leave_rules_0.pdf 

The point of contention was the ‘two surviving children’ clause. Deepika Singh had married a man with two children. And, when she gave birth that child inevitably became the third child to Deepika. Hence, to the maternity leave to take care of her biological children, Deepika filed a court case. She went to Central Administrative Tribunal, Chandigarh bench. Then, to High Court to no avail.

Both the institutes mentioned that the biological child is her third child, hence ‘disentitles’ to avail the maternity leave.

Deepika Singh went to Apex Court, and the apex court held the judgement in her favour. In the case, the bench constituting Justice Y. Chandrachud, and Justice A S Bopanna observed, 

“Atypical families which are different from traditional family units also entitled to equal protection of the law- Familial relationships may take the form of domestic, unmarried partnerships or queer relationships. A household may be a single-parent household for any number of reasons, including the death of a spouse, separation, or divorce. These manifestations of love and of families may not be typical but they are as real as their traditional counterparts. Such atypical manifestations of the family unit are equally deserving not only of protection under law but also of the benefits available under social welfare legislation. “

The complete judgement: https://www.livelaw.in/pdf_upload/718-deepika-singh-v-central-administrative-tribunal-16-aug-2022-432626.pdf 

Same-sex marriages in India

Although, the above statement looks optimistic in the light that the case of same-sex marriages is yet to be heard. In addition, in May 2022, Kerala High Court favoured lesbian couples to live together even if their family was against it.

Taiwan is the only country in Asia that has legalised same-sex marriages. Thailand is on the road in the same direction. Recently, Singapore de-criminalised the homosexual association of men.

All these small victories of acknowledgement by the judiciary, in particular the supreme court, keeps the queer community for a more accepting society at least by law.

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