The Supreme Court will hear on January 6 the pleas seeking transfer to the apex court of the petitions pending before high courts for recognition of same-sex marriages.

The petitions were mentioned on Tuesday for urgent listing before a bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha.

"We will take it up on January 6," the bench told the lawyer who mentioned the matter.

On December 14 last year, the Apex Court sought a response from the Centre to two pleas seeking transfer to the apex court of the petitions pending in the Delhi High Court for directions to recognise same-sex marriages.

Prior to that, on November 25 last year, the Supreme Court had sought the response of the central government to separate pleas by two gay couples seeking enforcement of their right to marry and a direction to the authorities to register their marriage under the Special Marriage Act.

A bench headed by CJI Chandrachud, who was also part of the Constitution bench which in 2018 decriminalised consensual gay sex, had in November last year issued notice to the Centre besides seeking the assistance of Attorney General for India R Venkataramani in dealing with the pleas.
The Apex Court's five-judge Constitution bench, in a path-breaking unanimous judgement delivered on September 6, 2018, held consensual sex among adult homosexuals or heterosexuals in private space is not a crime while striking down a part of the British-era penal law which criminalised it on the ground that it violated the constitutional right to equality and dignity.

The pleas, on which the Court had issued a notice in November last year, have sought a direction that the right to marry a person of one's choice be extended to LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) people as part of their fundamental right.

One of the petitions has sought an interpretation of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 in a gender-neutral manner where a person is not discriminated against due to their sexual orientation.

The Court had also taken note of the fact that various petitions on the same issue are pending before High Courts.

The Apex Court had, in its 2018 judgment, held that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalized consensual gay sex was "irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary".

It had said the 158-year-old law has become an "odious weapon" to harass the LGBT community by subjecting them to discrimination and unequal treatment.

With PTI Inputs