Landmark Verdict in India Scraps Law Criminalizing Homosexuality

08 September, 2018, 10:31 | Author: Bert Pena
  • Supreme Court decriminalises Section 377, declares homosexuality legal

"History owes the LGBT community an apology for their sufferings", said Justice Indu Malhotra, who was also part of the bench.

Arun Kumar, a spokesman for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the parent organization of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, said Indian society "traditionally does not recognize" gay relationships, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

LGBT community members and supporters cheer the ruling in Mumbai, as the chief justice characterized the colonial-era law as a tool to harass gay and lesbian Indians.

Activists and well-wishers outside jumped for joy while waving gay pride flags and placards reading "Love Wins" and "LGBT rights are human rights".

Suri's dancers wore rainbow makeup and bright Indian outfits to mark the end of the notorious Section 377 of the penal code, which until Thursday banned same-sex acts as "carnal intercourse against the order of nature".

He also said that homosexuality can not be regarded as a mental disorder and gays have the right to live with dignity. 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. "The veil of social morality can not be used to violate fundamental rights of even a single individual, for the foundation of constitutional morality rests upon the recognition of diversity that pervades the society", CJI Misra ruled.

LGBTQ activist Anjali Nazia said the Supreme Court had paved way for bigger judgements ahead.

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"Decriminalising homosexuality and abolishing #Section377 is a huge thumbs up for humanity and equal rights! You can't change the mindsets of the people with the hammer of law", said Pandit Ajay Gautam of the fringe Hum Hindu group. "We know we have a long way to go in terms of right to adoption, right to marriage but it is a very welcome beginning", Joshi said.

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

The law, while in existence, called for a maximum sentence of life in prison if one were caught taking part in homosexual acts.

Lawyer Anand Grover, who was representing Naz Foundation against Section 377, talks to the media after the Supreme Court verdict.

"An age-old colonial law, that was an anachronism in today's modern times, ends restoring the fundamental rights and negating discrimination based on sexual orientation".

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".

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.

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