Civil Union versus Marriage


    In News

    • CJI clarified that the hearing’s scope would be limited to developing a notion of a “civil union” that finds legal recognition under the Special Marriage Act.

    What is Civil Union?

    • A civil union (also known as a civil partnership) is a legally recognized arrangement similar to marriage, created primarily as a means to provide recognition in law for same-sex couples.
    • Civil unions would be accompanied by rights such as inheritance rights, property rights, parental rights, employment benefits to spouses, joint parenting right to abstain from testifying against one’s partner — similar to the spousal privilege given under Section 122 of the Indian Evidence Act.

    Differences between the Civil Union and Marriage

    • Civil partners cannot call themselves ‘married’ for legal purposes and Married couples cannot call themselves ‘civil partners’ for legal purposes.
    • Civil partnerships are ended by a dissolution order. Marriage is ended by divorce, by obtaining a final order.
    • Civil union is considered a step towards formal recognition of legal right to marry.
    • In the wake of the legalization of same sex marriages, several civil unions were converted into marriages. For instance, In Austria, same-sex couples could form civil partnerships between the years 2010-2017. However, this changed with a court ruling that deemed civil unions discriminatory in January 2019, when such marriages were legalized.

    Which other countries allow civil unions?

    • In the year 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) legalized same-sex marriages across the nation with its landmark ruling in “Obergefell v. Hodges”
    • From 1993, couples in Norway enjoyed the right to enter into civil unions, which gave way to a new law 15 years later, allowing such couples to marry, adopt and undergo state-sponsored artificial insemination.
    • Similarly, countries like Brazil, Uruguay, Andorra, and Chile had also recognized the right of same sex couples to enter into civil unions, even before they formally recognized their legal right to marriage.

    For further reading on Same-sex marriage, kindly follow this link 

    Special Marriage Act of 1954

    • About:
      • All marriages in India can be registered under the respective personal law Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Muslim Marriage Act, 1954, or under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.
      • The Special Marriage Act, 1954 is an Act of the Parliament of India with provision for civil marriage for people of India and all Indian nationals in foreign countries, irrespective of religion or faith followed by either party.
      • The couples have to serve a notice with the relevant documents to the Marriage Officer 30 days before the intended date of the marriage.
    • Applicability: 
      • Any person, irrespective of religion. 
      • Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, or Jews can also perform marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.
      • Inter-religion marriages are performed under this Act.
      • This Act is applicable to the entire territory of India and extends to intending spouses who are both Indian nationals living abroad.
    • For further reading on Special Marriage Act of 1954, kindly follow this link 

    Source: IE