Two Supreme Court cases in India whose verdicts came down within the same 24 hours are being lauded by the Indian Church. 

On Oct. 16, the Supreme Court of India rejected the plea of a mother of two children to abort her fetus in the 27th week — upholding the fetus’ “right to live.” 

Under the abortion rules in India, called medical termination of pregnancy, abortion after 24 weeks requires medical proof of danger to the mother or to the fetus if the pregnancy is allowed to continue. 

The following day, Oct. 17, the Supreme Court said “no” to legalizing gay marriage. 

The split majority verdict (3-2) by the five-member bench headed by the chief justice of India, Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud, rejected the plea for legalizing gay marriage, which was strongly opposed by the federal government.

The legalization of gay marriage, the judgment noted, “can only be done by the Legislature” and that “any attempt by the court to do so would amount to encroaching upon the field set for the Legislature,” the Indian Express English daily reported.

Last April, the National Catholic Register reported on the federal government’s opposition to gay marriage in India.

Hailing the verdict, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India in a press statement pointed out that the judgment “reaffirms the institution of traditional marriage, rooted in the sacred teachings and values held by the Catholic Church and many other faiths.” 

While reiterating that “marriage, according to the Catholic Church, is a union exclusively between a man and a woman,” the Indian bishops noted that “homosexual unions are fundamentally different from the divine plan for marriage … At the same time, the Catholic Church emphasizes the need to treat individuals with same-sex attractions with respect, compassion, and sensitivity, rejecting any unjust discrimination.” 

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“The verdicts of the Supreme Court denying legal sanction for gay marriage and denial of abortion in advanced pregnancy uphold the dignity of family and pro-life values,” the Syro-Malabar Church, which follows its own oriental rite and is based in southern Kerala state, pointed out in a press state statement Oct. 18.

India’s mainstream media appeared to favor a verdict that would legalize gay marriage. The Times of India, for example, the largest English daily in the world, ran an editorial Oct. 18 with the headline: “Untying the knot: Do same-sex couples have the same constitutional rights as straight couples? Yes, should have been SC’s [Supreme Court’s] answer.”     

Many in pro-life and pro-family circles, however, praised both court decisions. Antonio Carvalho, a Catholic pro-life activist based in Belgaum, near Mumbai, told CNA: “We are thrilled by these two verdicts.”