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The Supreme Court’s Decision on Queer Adoption in India

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Discover the implications of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on queer adoption, exploring the legal and societal impact of this decision on LGBTQ+ families and the broader adoption landscape.

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Introduction

The Supreme Court of India recently made a decision regarding queer marriages and adoption. The court refused to legally recognize queer marriages and also declined the right of adoption to queer couples by a 3:2 majority.

The Bench’s Opinions

The Constitution bench consisted of five judges, and they each had different opinions on the matter. Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice SK Kaul believed that unmarried and queer couples should be allowed to adopt. They argued that the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) had no reasonable justification for barring unmarried and queer couples from adopting.

However, the other three judges on the bench did not agree with this view. They believed that there should be a framework in place before allowing queer couples to adopt. They emphasized that the best interest of the child should be the guiding principle in adoption cases.

The Regulation in Question

The bench was considering the legality of Regulation 5(3) of the CARA Regulations for adoption. This regulation states that a child cannot be given in adoption to a couple unless they have at least two years of stable marital relationship, except in cases of relative or step-parent adoption.

The Chief Justice’s Opinion

Chief Justice DY Chandrachud argued that this regulation violated Article 15 of the Constitution, which prohibits discrimination based on identity. He believed that CARA had exceeded its authority by barring unmarried couples from adopting. The Chief Justice stated that unmarried couples, including queer couples, should be allowed to jointly adopt a child.

He also criticized the assumption made by CARA that only married heterosexual couples can provide a stable household for a child. The Chief Justice argued that there is no single form of a stable household, and the law should not discriminate against unmarried couples based on their orientation.

The Majority Opinion

Justice Ravindra Bhat, who wrote the majority opinion, believed that there should be a framework in place before allowing queer couples to adopt. He emphasized that the best interest of the child should be the priority. Justice Bhat stated that the adoption framework considered the protections and entitlements that come with marriage.

He explained that the law prioritizes the best interest of the child and protects them in cases where a marriage has broken down. Adoption becomes a fundamental prerequisite for accessing legal safeguards related to divorce, custody, guardianship, maintenance, and succession.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Supreme Court’s decision on queer adoption in India was divided. While Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice SK Kaul believed that unmarried and queer couples should be allowed to adopt, the other three judges emphasized the need for a framework before granting this right. The court’s decision highlights the ongoing debate surrounding queer rights and adoption in India.

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