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India’s Supreme Court judges backed the appointment of a gay lawyer to Delhi’s High Court, despite the government’s fierce objections over his candidacy and his activism in LGBTQ causes, Reuters reported.

Saurabh Kirpal had initially been recommended for a judicial appointment in 2017 and the country’s top court approved him in 2021. But last November, the Indian government sent back the proposal, saying it had concerns.

The Supreme Court said that the government had issues with Kirpal’s “ardent involvement and passionate attachment to the cause of gay rights,” saying it might influence the would-be judge’s decisions.

The government also had objections about Kirpal’s partner, a Swiss national.

The top court, however, rejected both objections, countering that the lawyer has “not been surreptitious about his orientation.” It also added that Kirpal’s Swiss partner was not “inimically disposed to our country, since the country of his origin is a friendly nation.”

The court urged the government to act immediately on the recommendation.

If elected, Kirpal would become India’s first openly gay judge, a significant milestone in India, observers say.

In 2018, the Supreme Court scrapped a colonial-era ban on gay sex. Even so, members of the LGBTQ community have long complained about the lack of acceptance and discrimination in Indian society, which is considered socially conservative.

Meanwhile, senior government officials have recently said that they want greater influence in appointing justices, a demand that numerous attorneys and judges argue threatens the judiciary’s independence.

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