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Same Sex Live-In Relationship

A live-in-relationship relationship is a union between a man and a woman as husband and wife without having a registered legal marriage. One of the main ideas of live-in-relationship is that the intended couples so to assess their compatibility with each other before going for some commitment like marriage. Moreover, a long-term relationship or a permanent arrangement as husband and wife, without any legal formality is common.

Due to wider recognition of a live-in relationship, some international documents dealt with it. A few numbers countries legalized, living relationship through statutes such countries are, United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Australia, and some American state jurisdiction.

Status Of Live-In-Relationship In India

In India, even in the absence of specific legislation, the judiciary through its wisdom has immensely contributed to understanding the problems relating to live-in-relationship and has maintained a balanced position.

Following our certain laws deals with a live-in relationship.
protection of women from domestic violence, act 2005 The statute is the only law that refers to the term relationship in nature of marriage in the definition of domestic relationship given under Section 2(f). This provision has been invoked by the code to provide relief to the woman victims in live-in-relationship. As per section 2(f), the act not only applies to a married couple but also to a relationship in nature of marriage, a woman in a domestic relationship can claim remedies in the events of physical, mental, verbal, or economic abuse.

The abused women have been granted several rights and protections under this act. If the magistrate is convinced of any domestic violence, he can pass orders prohibiting the accused from indulging in activities, which are a detriment to the victim. In addition, the district can pass restraining orders. Order accused to provide monetary relief to the abused, which include medical expenses reimbursement for loss of earnings or property and maintenance. The woman in such cases is also allowed temporary custody for her kids and a right to claim compensation for any harm caused.

In Indira Sharma V. VKV Sharma[i], Supreme Court, enlist set of criteria to decide whether a live-in-relationship come under the purview of the protection of women from domestic violence act these criteria are based on the duration of the period of the relationship, shared household, pooling of resources and financial arrangements, domestic arrangements, sexual relationships, children, socialization in public, intention, and conduct of the parties.

Indian Evidence Act 1872 The law does have a concept called presumption of marriage, which could be used to recognize live-in-relationships as a marital arrangement, and the female living partner as a wife. This is in obedience with section 50 and section 114 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872. courts, apply this presumption if a man and a woman are living under the same roof and cohabit for several years.

In, A.Dinohamy V.WL Blahamy[ii], It has laid on a general principle, where a man and a woman are proved to have lived together as a man and wife then the law will presume, unless the contrary is clearly proved that they are living together in consequence of a valid marriage, and not in a state of other women.

Continuous and elongated cohabitation, uphold a presumption in favor of marriage. Even though there is a long-term cohabitation, there are some contrasts in folk's decisions. In Madan Mohan Singh and others V. Rajni Kant and others[iii], the living relationship if continued for such a long time, cannot be termed as walk-in and walk-out relationship, and there is a presumption of marriage between them, which the appellants failed to rebut.

But in contrast to the Madan Mohan Singh decision, the High Court in Alok Kumar V. State[iv] held that a living relationship is a walk-in and walk-out relationship and there are no strings attached to this relationship. Neither this relationship creates any legal bond between the parties. It is a contract of living together, which is renewed or extends each day by the parties, and can be terminated by either of the parties without the consent of the other party, and one party can walk out at will, at any time.

Criminal Procedure Code 1973. For maintenance, wife is defined in Section 125(1) explanation, B of CRPC as, wife includes a woman who has been divorced by or has obtained a divorce from her husband, and has not remarried, but the status of women in a live-in relationship is not that often wife, and also lacks social approval or sanity.

In 2003, the Malimath committee report on reforms in the criminal justice system, recommended an amendment of the word wife in Section 125 of the CRPC, to include a woman who is living with a man for an ample period of time. Supreme Court in Chanmuniya V. Virendra Kumar Singh Kushwala and other[v] also interpreted this recommendation in such a fashion to protect woman, but no further steps were taken to implement these recommendations by the concerned authorities.

Status Of Same-Sex Union Live-In Relationship In India

India has decriminalised section 377 of the Indian Penal Code excluded consensual homosexual intercourse from its ambit. But legal protection have not been given for same-sex marriages therefore homosexual couples are left with only one option to carry their relationship as live-in relation couples.

It is not specific how these various rights and benefits are applicable to same-sex couples, because for them, live-in relationships are the only type of union recognised by law to some extent. the Uttarakhand High Court ruled that live-in relationships between same-sex couples are not unlawful, In June 2020; "It is a fundamental right which is guaranteed to a person under article 21 of the Constitution of India, which is vast enough to protect an essential right of self-determination with regards to a person's identity and freedom of choice with regards to the sexual choice of the partner".[vi]

In August 2020, The Orissa High Court ruled that same-sex live-in relationships are recognised under the constitutional right to life and equality. It was held that women in same-sex live-in relationships are protected under the 2005 domestic violence law similarly to different-sex cohabiting couples.[vii]

A lesbian couple from Mahisagar district, Gujrat filed a petition with the Gujrat High Court seeking police protection from their families and recognition of their right to cohabitation, in June 2020. The couple had entered into a friendship agreement as a method to legitimise their relationship. The High Court granted their petition on 23 July 2020 and ordered the Mahisagar police to give protection to the same-sex couple[viii].

Maya Sharma, an activist said that, such contracts in court cases are used when one of the partner's parents are forcing marriage upon them. It has helped them get judgements in their favour. The first Maitri Karar(friendship agreement) between a same-sex couple is believed to have occurred in 1987 in Chhota Udaipur District[ix].

The Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to live-in relationships and protection of their lives and liberty as intended under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, In July 2020.[x]

After observing the decisions of the courts above we can say; even those belonging to the same-sex, have the right to live together even outside wedlock and that a live-in relationship is now recognised by the legislature too.[xi]

Conclusion
A civil union/partnership is a recognized arrangement by law that is similar to marriage.it grants all the rights of marriage except the title itself. The main aim is to provide legal recognition of same-sex couples. Section 377 was decriminalized in the year 2018, yet same-sex couples still have to fight for their rights, recognition, and legal legitimacy as harmonized to married couples. It is the power provided by our Constitution, which lies in its acceptance of plurality as well as the diversity of the culture.

The intimacy of marriage, including the choice of partner, which individually makes, on whether or not to marry and whom to marry is the area that exclusively lies outside the control of the state/the society. While the same-sex couple can now live together without fear of penalties, their union is unfortunately not recognised by law yet. Having been repudiated for decades, the freedom to express themselves, the union still have to push the fight further in accordance to legalise same-sex marriages, while for now, we can say that live-in relationship is the only way for the same-sex couples from which they can live their lives as they want.

There is no difference between heterosexual and homosexual couples. Like heterosexual couples, homosexual couples also want to form a stable, long-lasting relation between themselves and even many of them actually do. The psychological and social aspects of committed relationships between same-sex partners to great extent are similar to those of heterosexual relationships.

Just like heterosexual couples, same-sex couples form deep emotional attachments and commitments between themselves. Both the couples face similar issues concerning intimacy, love, loyalty, and stability, and a similar process to address these issues. Many types of research show that same-sex couples have levels of relationship satisfaction higher than heterosexual couples.
Therefore there should be no discrimination towards homosexual couples as they largely resemble heterosexual couples.

End-Notes:
  1. Indra sharma v. VKV sharma (2013(14) scale 448)
  2. A.dinohamy v. WL Blahamy AIR 1927 PC 185
  3. Madan Mohan Singh and others V. Rajni Kant and others AIR 2010 SC 2933
  4. Alok Kumar V. State HC Crl.M.C. No. 4181/2015 on 9 August, 2015
  5. Chanmuniya V. Virendra Kumar Singh Kushwala and other 2011, 1 SCC 141
  6. Same sex couples can live together: Uttarakhand HC. Hindustan Times. 20 June 2020
  7. Orissa HC green signals same sex live-in relationships. The Leaflet. 26 august 2020
  8. Gurjrat news 1 August 2020
  9. Omkar Khandekar, 5 October 2020, Same sex couples in India are using a Gujrati practice to get 'married'. Lifestyle.livemint.com
  10. Look into threat of life to two female live-in partners: High court to Mohali SSP. Hindustan Times 21 July 2020
  11. HC: Unmarried same-sex couples can live together, Uttarakhand HC. Times of India 21 June 2020

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