In a landmark ruling released on Monday by India’s Supreme Court, the judges ruled that “non-traditional” families, including gay families and single-parent families, are entitled to both the protection of the law and social benefits related to a welfare legislation.

The new ruling came due to a case filed by a woman regarding maternity leave, due to her unusual situation where she adopted her husband’s children from a prior marriage before becoming pregnant with her own child, according to Bloomberg.

Although the case did not specify an LGBT family, the ruling’s broad definition of a household is inclusive of “non-traditional” family units like gay families, single-parent households, adoptive families, and stepparents, the Hindustan Times reported.

“This assumption ignores both -- the many circumstances which may lead to a change in one’s familial structure, and the fact that many families do not conform to this expectation to begin with. Familial relationships may take the form of domestic, unmarried partnerships or queer relationships,” the ruling said.

The ruling, made by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice A.S. Bopanna, uses that broad definition of a household and family to give those non-traditional family units entitlement to social benefits and welfare as it reflects in the current legislation.

“The black letter of the law must not be relied upon to disadvantage families which are different from traditional ones. The same undoubtedly holds true for women who take on the role of motherhood in ways that may not find a place in the popular imagination,” the ruling 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,” the court continued.

The landmark ruling is another push towards the easing of colonial anti-LGBTQ legislation in the country despite the Union government’s opposition to issues like same-sex marriage. A 2018 ruling decriminalizing same-sex relationships and intercourse between consenting adults and a 2014 ruling recognizing transgender people as a third gender have also been passed.

This landmark court ruling also comes as Singapore decriminalizes same-sex relations, even as the city-state increases the barrier toward officially recognizing same-sex marriage as a compromise with the conservative minority of the country.

An Indian Supreme Court ruling released on Monday allows for expanded social benefits and entitlements to "non-traditional" families, including gay families and single parent households. This is a representational image. Tingey Injury Law Firm/Unsplash.

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