Published: Sat, September 08, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

India legalises gay sex

India legalises gay sex

In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court on Thursday struck down part of a 158-year-old colonial-era law which criminalised gay sex among consenting adults, observing that it violated the constitutional right to equality and dignity.

"Private acts between consenting adults is something which no government should have criminalized as unfortunately we have done", he said.

"I am astounded at people who say that we can not get these rights", said Sunil Mehra, a petitioner in the section 377 case told the Hindustan Times.

Activists hope the scrapping of the ban will uphold the right to equality but many acknowledged that discrimination would persist.

The CJI also said: "Section 377 IPC subjects the LGBT community to societal pariah and dereliction and is, therefore, manifestly arbitrary, for it has become an odious weapon for the harassment of the LGBT community by subjecting them to discrimination and unequal treatment".

The LGBT community celebrates outside the Supreme Court in New Delhi, India, after it scrapped a law that criminalizes gay sex, September 6, 2018.

"History owes an apology to members of the community for the delay in ensuring their rights for denying them their rights and compelling them to live a life of fear", said Justice Indu Malhotra. Calling it an "unnatural offense" the law made gay sex punishable with up to 10 years in prison.

Sukhdeep Singh, a gay rights activist and editor of Gaylaxy Magazine, said the community still had a lot of distance to go "to be legally with your partner".

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Reading down Section 377 IPC, the Constitution Bench said its provision will however continue to govern sexual acts against minors besides acts of bestiality.

In his separate ruling on Thursday, Justice Chandrachud opened the doors and windows for securing equal rights for members of the LGBT community.

"Such a view is constitutionally impermissible", stated CJI Misra, who wrote the judgment for himself and Justice Khanwilkar.

The judgement came on a batch of writ petitions filed by dancer Navtej Jauhar, journalist Sunil Mehra, chef Ritu Dalmia, hoteliers Aman Nath and Keshav Suri and business executive Ayesha Kapur as well as 20 former and current students of the IITs. Social morality can not be used to violate the fundamental rights of even a single individual. Back in July of 2009, the Delhi High Court decriminalized homosexuality, but it didn't stick.

On its official Twitter handle, the Congress said, "We join the people of India & the LGBTQIA+ community in their victory over prejudice".

"Decriminalising homosexuality and abolishing #Section377 is a huge thumbs up for humanity and equal rights!"

Breaking down after hearing the verdict outside the Supreme Court in New Delhi, corporate employee Ali Ahmad Faraz, said "I am no longer a criminal in my country for a crime I never committed".

She had urged the judges to "emancipate a class of people who have not been given the promises of our Constitution".

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