Published: Mon, September 10, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Landmark Verdict in India Scraps Law Criminalizing Homosexuality

Landmark Verdict in India Scraps Law Criminalizing Homosexuality

India's Supreme Court has struck down a colonial-era law criminalizing consensual gay sex, overturning more than 150 years of anti-LGBT legislation.

Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the denial of self-expression was akin to inviting death, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Gay sex had been punishable by up to 10 years in jail. Anti-section 377 activists then submitted a "curative petition" - a formal request to review an earlier court order perceived as a "miscarriage of justice" - and in 2016 the Supreme Court made a decision to revisit its ruling.

Justice D Y Chandrachud, who was a member of the five-judge constitution bench which ruled that gay sex among consenting adults was no more a criminal offence, said on Saturday that in Section 377 the judgment really represented in that sense the battle between laws of a colonial origin and laws which must truly represent constitutional values.

'Supreme Court verdict is momentous. Advocate of the Supreme Court & Executive Chairman of State Legal Aid Committee, J&K reacting strongly on the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court today striking down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code opening the gates for homosexuals to destroy the cultural values which have been honoured by all civilized human beings on the earth.

Taking note of the Centre's submission that other issues like gay marriages, adoption and ancillary civil rights of LGBTQ community should not be dealt, the court said it was not considering all these issues.

"Any discrimination on the basis of sexuality amounts to a violation of fundamental rights", he added in the ruling, which added India to a list of more than 120 countries where homosexuality is decriminalised.

It said that prosecution under Section 377 was significantly less and it only affected "a minuscule fraction of the country's population" comprising lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgenders. The court said the penal provision has been used to harass LGBT people. "Sexual orientation is natural and people have no control over it".

The Section 377 verdict is being cheered by millions across India now.

As per NDTV, in one of the hearings, CJI Dipak Misra had said that if two adults are engaging in "unnatural sex", with consent, they will not be committing any offence.

"We also hope that the judgment will boost efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination against LGBTI persons in all areas of social, economic, cultural and political activity, thereby ensuring a truly inclusive society", the statement reads.

Section 377 "completely violates the human right to have the freedom to fall in love", he said.

Justice Chandrachud ruled that "Members of the LGBT community are entitled, as all other citizens, to the full range of constitutional rights including the liberties protected by the Constitution" and that the LGBT people are "entitled to the benefit of an equal citizenship, without discrimination, and to the equal protection of law".

In 2011, the then Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, at a convention attended by former Congress President Sonia Gandhi and a host of other Union ministers, had said homosexuality is a "disease" and it is "unnatural".

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