India’s Supreme Court has agreed to examine a petition that seeks legal recognition of same-sex marriage, in a development that could build on a string of rulings expanding protection for the LGBTQ community.

The petition, which was filed this month by a couple, evoked India’s Special Marriage Act, a law that originally legalized interfaith unions. The couple drew on earlier landmark rulings in India, including one declaring privacy a fundamental right and another that decriminalized gay sex in 2018.

Legalizing same-sex marriage in India would run counter to a number of global challenges. Earlier this year, Singapore scrapped criminal penalties for gay sex, but stopped short of allowing marriage. And in the U.S., lawmakers are considering federal recognition of same-sex marriage, spurred by concerns that a more conservative Supreme Court might strike down its 2015 ruling to legalize the unions.

In India, the petitioners have argued that barring them from marriage violates their right to equality. They told the court that the ability to marry has implications for personal liberty, adoption and financial matters.

The Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, has given the government four weeks to take a stance on the issue.

The case isn’t without precedent. The Indian government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, opposed legal recognition of same-sex marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act in a separate case that sought similar relief from a lower court. According to government lawyers, permitting same-sex marriages would go against cultural values in Indian society.

In 2018, however, the government didn’t take a stand on decriminalizing gay sex, leaving the court to decide.

India’s Supreme Court has been increasingly open to hearing cases related to LGBTQ rights. Earlier this year, a group of judges including Chandrachud ruled that non-traditional families are entitled to protection.

This ruling, while not directly aimed at the LGBTQ community, created space for these households to receive benefits under social welfare legislation.

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