LGBTQ Rights: Justice Chandrachud Disagrees With Beatles, Says ‘We Need More Than Love'

Justice Chandrachud referred to the song 'All You Need Is Love' to stress that decriminalising homosexuality will not alone achieve equality and end discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community.

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New Delhi: While speaking at an event on LGBTQ+ rights, Supreme Court Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, on Tuesday, August 30 said he disagreed with the lyrics of the famous Beatles’ song ‘All You Need Is Love’.

Justice Chandrachud referred to the song to stress that decriminalising homosexuality will not alone achieve equality and end discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community.

“The Beatles famously sang ‘All you need is love, love; Love is all you need’. At the risk of ruffling the feathers of music aficionados everywhere, I take the liberty to disagree with them and say – perhaps we need a little more than love,” he said at an event organised by the British high commission to commemorate the Supreme Court’s 2018 Navtej Singh Johar judgment.

He was speaking on the topic: ‘Beyond Navtej: The Future of the LGBTQ+ Movement in India’.

“Structural changes as well as attitudinal changes are essential. Equality is not achieved with the decriminalisation of homosexuality alone but must extend to all spheres of life including the home, the workplace, and public places,” Bar and Bench reported him as saying.

Batting for the rights of the community, he added: “The presence of queer individuals in public spaces must be the norm rather than the exception. The accomplishment of this simple yet crucial task would breathe life into the decision in Navtej.”

On September 6, 2018, the Supreme Court struck down provisions of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which was effectively used to criminalise homosexual relations in India for more than a century. Through this landmark judgment, Navtej Singh Johar vs Union of India, homosexuality was effectively decriminalised.

Justice Chandrachud, while delivering the Navtej Singh Johar judgment in 2018, had stressed that this case is much more than just decriminalising a provision. “It is about an aspiration to realise constitutional rights and equal existence of LGBT community as other citizens,” he had said.

He had also brought up the right to privacy judgment, saying, “To deny the LGBT community of their right to sexual orientation is a denial of their citizenship and a violation of their privacy. They cannot be pushed into obscurity by an oppressive colonial legislation.”

Also read: Queer Rights: Sec 377 Is Down, but Urgent Reforms Are Required for Equality and Dignity

However, after the Section 377 judgment, multiple petitions were filed across India, with couples seeking police protection in cases of familial intolerance. For instance, in May this year, the Kerala high court ordered that a lesbian couple, 22-year-old Adhila Nassrin and 23-year-old Fathima Noora, could live together despite opposition from their families.

Justice Chandrachud in his speech at the British High Commission also underlined the importance of people’s right to choose to live their lives in a manner that deviates from the “accepted norm”.

“When I say unconventional families, I do not mean to refer only to queer couples but also to others who choose to live their lives in a manner that deviates from the accepted norm. Our very understanding of the family unit must change to include the myriad ways in which individuals forge familial bonds,” he said.

Recently, a Supreme Court bench, comprising Justices Chandrachud and A.S. Bopanna, widened the definition of a ‘family’ and observed that “familial relationships may take the form of domestic, unmarried partnerships or queer relationships.”

Same-sex marriage is not legally recognised in India, however, there is also no statutory or constitutional provision restricting it either. For instance, in December last year, a gay couple had an intimate wedding ceremony in Telangana. Kolkata also witnessed its first gay wedding this July.