India Decriminalizes Homosexuality; Strikes Down Colonial-Era Law

Exclusive! Tusshar Kapoor on #Section377 We don’t need these archaic laws everyone must live happily

"The United Nations in India welcomes the landmark ruling by the Supreme Court of India striking down a key component of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalized specific sexual acts between adults, a law dating back to British colonial rule that has targeted in particular lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals and communities", it said in a statement.

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".

In its 493-page judgement, the bench said aspects of Section 377 dealing with unnatural sex with animals and children remain in force.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the age-old colonial law was an anachronism in today's modern times and the verdict restores the fundamental rights and negates discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Prosecution under Section 377 was rare, and mostly leveled only against gay men, but it was long used to blackmail, harass and sexually assault LGBT Indians, the New York Times reports. One of the judges, Indu Malhotra, said she believed the LGBT community was owed an apology.

In a unanimous verdict, the five-judge Constitution Bench decriminalised Section 377 IPC with regard to consensual gay sex, asserting that it was "irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary" and that it violated fundamental rights to equality, life with dignity, personal liberty, non-discrimination, privacy and expression under Articles 14, 15, 19, and 21 of the Constitution.

More news: Kolkata bridge collapse kills one man and leaves dozens injured

Reading down Section 377 IPC, the Constitution Bench said its provision will however continue to govern sexual acts against minors besides acts of bestiality. Social morality can not be used to violate the fundamental rights of even a single individual.

Cakes and champagne rounded out the hotel party while Suri said Thursday's judgement was just the beginning of the battle for LGBT recognition. "But decriminalisation is a first step", says Justice Chandrachud's judgment. 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.

He also said that homosexuality can not be regarded as a mental disorder and gays have the right to live with dignity. India now has openly gay celebrities, and some high-profile Bollywood films have dealt with gay issues.

The other challenge that lies ahead for LGBT members will be with respect to acceptance in jobs and in family gatherings. People should be free to be who they are.

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".

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