Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that a family might consist of a gay couple or an unmarried union. On August 28, the SC bench remarked that an “atypical” manifestation of a family unit is just as real as its conventional equivalents. It further emphasized the need for such families to have legal protection.
Most people assume that a traditional Indian family consists of a mother and father who take care of the home and the children. It used to be the family portrait that everyone imagined to be “regular.” We anticipate that the “normal” range will expand in light of this new observation.
Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna made up the bench. Their findings move us closer to accepting both the reality of unmarried families and homosexuality.
A mother who had been refused maternity leave for her biological kid was being heard by the bench. Because she had already taken time off to care for one of her husband’s two biological children, the leave was rejected (from a previous marriage).
The provision of maternity leave under the Rules of 1972 was further explained as having the goal of enabling women to remain in the workforce. The unpleasant reality is that, in the absence of such safeguards, many women would be forced by social pressure to stop working after giving birth to a child if they are not given leave and other supportive measures.
The court stated that extending leave to her husband’s biological children can be done in a compassionate manner. They also noted that divorce, separation, or the passing of a spouse might all result in a family being managed by a single parent. These dynamics, though, are as genuine as those in conventional households.
‘Law Must Not Be Relied Upon To Disadvantage Atypical Families’
The bench stated that adoption, remarriage, and fostering could result in a change in the guardians and caregivers of children. It was noted that although these families may present in an unusual way, they do exist. These are entitled to the same legal protection.
“The black letter of the law must not be relied upon to disfavour families that are different from traditional ones,” Justice Chandrachud wrote in his decision. The same unquestionably applies to women who adopt motherhood roles in ways that do not fit into the conventional picture.
The justices concluded, after considering every piece of evidence, that the couple’s marriage changed the dynamics of the family. With it, she assumed parental responsibility for her husband’s children. It does not, however, affect her ability to take advantage of maternity leave for her own biological child.
‘Unmarried & Queer Couples Too Constitute Real Families’
Justices discovered that the concept of the family excluded many other atypical households, in addition to the traditional families where a heterosexual couple is responsible for raising their children.
“This assumption ignores both the numerous factors which may cause one’s familial structure to shift, as well as the fact that many families do not initially correspond to this expectation,” they claimed. Queer relationships, domestic partnerships, and unmarried partnerships are all examples of familial ties.
The observation was noteworthy because LGBTQ+ (LGBTQIA+ Glossary) marriage recognition has been a point of contention for activists. These campaigners and the queer community have been pushing for the legal status of weddings in the nation ever since the supreme court decriminalized homosexuality in 2018.