New Delhi: Breaking new grounds, an NCP MP on Friday introduced a private member bill in Lok Sabha to legalise same-sex marriage, and provide the same legal rights to married LGBTQIA couples which heterosexual couples are entitled to.
Another private member bill was also introduced on a similar issue by DMK MP DNV Senthilkumar S which talked about providing rights to LGBTQIA persons to enable them to live with human dignity.
The bill introduced by NCP MP Supriya Sule proposes to amend the Special Marriage Act, 1954 to solemnise such marriages and proposes to fix the age of marriage at 21 years in case both parties are males and 18 years in case both are females.
It also proposes to replace the words husband and wife with spouse by amending the various sections of the Special Marriage Act, 1954.
In the statement of 'Objects and Reasons' of the bill, Sule said that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (questioning), intersex, and agender (LGBTQIA) individuals still face "persecution, discrimination and social stigma within society".
In 2018, the Supreme Court of India struck down section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and decriminalised homosexuality.
Citing another Supreme Court judgement, Sule said even after the determination of their sexual orientation, "LGBTQIA individuals are still unable to marry and raise their own families".
Underlining that LGBTQIA couples have no access to rights that heterosexual couples are entitled to upon marriage, such as succession, maintenance and pensions, etc, she said, "Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to amend the Special Marriage Act, 1954, to legalise same-sex marriage, and provide legal recognition to married LGBTQIA couples."
It will ensure that Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution are upheld, and that LGBTQIA couples are provided the rights they are entitled to, she said.
A private member bill is a draft legislation introduced by any MP who is not a minister. Such bills very rarely see the light of the day unlike a 'Government Bill', which a Union minister introduces.
So far, only 14 private members' bills have been passed, with six being cleared in 1956 alone.