United Against Love: Indian Religious Leaders Unite Against Gay Marriage

In a rare display of unity amongst India’s major religions, leaders from the country’s Muslim, Christian, Sikh, and Jain communities join hands with Hindu nationalist groups in opposing calls to recognize same-sex marriage in the country.

This move comes as India’s Supreme Court hears petitions filed by various LGBTQIA+ organizations in the country, pleading to legalize same-sex marriage. These petitions were filed around five years after a landmark case in 2018 that decriminalized homosexuality in India.

In response to the petitions filed by gay rights groups to the Supreme Court, some have filed applications opposing the proposal to legalize same-sex marriage in India. Amidst ongoing sectarian violence and tensions between India’s religious groups on the backdrop of growing Hindu nationalism, many religious organizations stood in rare unison to oppose same-sex marriage in India.

These organizations include Islamic groups like the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, the Communion of Churches representing Indian Christians, the Akal Takht on behalf of the Sikhs, and representatives of Jain gurus and other religious groups. They said that they oppose legalizing same-sex marriage, claiming it infringes on holy scriptures and the natural family order.

Many religious leaders also repeated the religious sentiment that marriage is between a man and a woman only and should serve the purpose of procreation, not pleasure.

The concept of marriage between two opposite sexes is like the basic feature of marriage itself, which leads to the creation of a bundle of rights (maintenance, inheritance, guardianship, custody). By these petitions, the petitioners are seeking to dilute the concept of marriage by introducing a free-floating system through the concept of same-sex marriage,” Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind said in its application. This Islamic group has taken the lead in opposing same-sex marriage in India.

The Jamaat-e-Islami’s vice president, Salim Engineer, said in a media statement that marriage between a man and a woman is “the correct form” of marriage, saying that recognizing same-sex marriage “will present a great danger to the well-entrenched family system” and “it will violate the rights of men and women in society.

Other religious leaders, such as the Jain guru Acharya Lokesh, echoed these sentiments, arguing that legalizing same-sex marriage goes against ancient, traditional values of society and family.

The Communion of Churches also stated that marriage is a divine institution in Christianity, adding that the union between two people of the same sex does not have the validity of marriage. Sikh leaders also opposed same-sex marriage.

However, Hindu groups like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have a slightly more nuanced take on the issue. While they oppose same-sex marriage, in line with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), they do not oppose same-sex relationships, a departure from their previous opposition to decriminalizing homosexuality in 2018.

On May 3, the solicitor general, Tushar Mehta, called for inter-ministry coordination to discuss giving certain rights to same-sex couples, such as joint bank accounts and nominating partners in life insurance policies. The court is set to resume on May 9.

LGBTQIA+ rights in Asia remain complex, with some Asian countries imposing the death penalty for homosexuality. As of 2023, Taiwan is still the only country in the continent that legalizes same-sex marriage.

If you like our posts, subscribe to the Atheist Republic newsletter to get exclusive content delivered weekly to your inbox. Also, get the book "Why There is No God" for free.

Click Here to Subscribe

Donating = Loving

Heart Icon

Bringing you atheist articles and building active godless communities takes hundreds of hours and resources each month. If you find any joy or stimulation at Atheist Republic, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.

Or make a one-time donation in any amount.