Supreme Court says ‘non-traditional families’ are entitled to equal social benefits

Supreme Court says ‘non-traditional families’ are entitled to equal social benefits

A family may consist of various configurations of adults taking care of biological and non-biological children.

A decision by Supreme Court last week declared that same sex couples and other non-traditional families are entitled to equal social benefits same as the other traditional families (having one male as father and one female as the mother).

This court ruled in favor of Deepika Singh, whose application for maternity leave was denied by the government medical institute in northern India. The organization’s argument was that Deepika had already taken maternity leave to care for her ex-husband’s children, now she again wanted leave after she gave birth to her own child.

Although the case was not directly in concern to the LGBTQ community, the two-judge bench created a big change in the legal definition of ‘family’ by giving its decision “The law must not be relied upon to disadvantage families which are different from traditional ones,” they wrote “Familial relationships may take the form of domestic, unmarried partnerships or queer relationships.”

The ruling, written by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud defined a household broadly, to include single parents, step-parents and adoptive families.

The court has ruled that family benefits must be extended to blended families including same-sex couples and other households. By this decision the court has widened the definition of family and considered this kind of family as “atypical”, the court said “Such atypical manifestations of the family unit are equally deserving not only of protection under law but also of the benefits available under social welfare legislation”.

This is a big decision and can put major impact in the context of LGBTIQ and women’s rights.

 “The concept of a ‘family’ both in the law and in society is that it consists of a single, unchanging unit with a mother and a father (who remain constant over time) and their children,” the two-judge bench said in the decision.

“This assumption ignores the fact that many families do not conform to this expectation.” said D.Y. Chandrachud, the justice who wrote the order.

He also wrote that “family” could be defined by various configurations of adults occupying the roles of primary caretakers with both biological and nonbiological children.