Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

SC decriminalises homosexuality, partly strikes down Section 377

SC likely to decide on validity of section 377 which criminalises gay sex on Thursday India's top court to rule on decriminalizing gay sex
Glenn Montgomery | 08 September, 2018, 10:31

It also said that "consensual carnal intercourse among adults, be it homosexual or heterosexual, in private space, does not in any way harm the public decency or morality". The law was enacted way back in 1860 by the British who believed such kind of sexual acts were against the order of nature. Some of them welcomed it after almost two decades of legal battle as a victory of marginalised and vulnerable people and sexual minority while maintaining that a long battle for real equality and non-discrimination awaits them at societal, governmental and legal levels in coming days.

"The law had become a weapon for harassment for the LGBT community", Chief Justice Dipak Misra said as he announced the landmark verdict.

"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.

But the battle is just half won for the LGBT community striving greater equality in society.

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

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

" Constitutional morality can not be martyred at the altar of social morality", Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, reading the verdict.

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".

Justice DY Chandrachud, one of the five judges on the constitution bench that read down section 377 of the penal code on Thursday, said the case involved much more than merely decriminalising certain conduct. But many gay people still face isolation and persecution, and the court's ruling will do little to change life on the ground for millions of people.

Seeking decriminalisation of consensual homosexuality, the NGO Naaz Foundation had first challenged Section 377 in the Delhi High Court in 2001.

"Supreme Court verdict on Section 377 is momentous".

While India's law only legalises sexual acts between adults, gay activists have hailed the verdict as a major boost in the deeply conservative country where religious groups have fiercely opposed any liberalisation of sexual morality.

"I am speechless! It's taken a long time to come but finally I can say I am free and I have equal rights as others", said Rama Vij, a college student who wore a rainbow scarf.

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. You can't change the mindsets of the people with the hammer of law", said Pandit Ajay Gautam of the fringe Hum Hindu group.

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