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India moves to reverse gay sex ruling

Federal government says ban on gay sex "unsustainable" as it urges top court to strike down its recent ruling.

Last updated: 20 Dec 2013 11:26
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The LGBT community in India reacted angrily to the recent ruling banning gay sex [Reuters]

India’s federal government has moved the country’s Supreme Court requesting it to review its recent judgement making gay sex illegal.

Reports quoting federal Law Minister Kapil Sibal’s tweet on Friday said, “The Govt has filed the review petition on #377 in the Supreme Court today. Let's hope the right to personal choices is preserved.”

Under section 377 of the Indian penal code,  individuals indulging in “unnatural sex, against the order of nature” are liable to be penalised and can be sent to jail for life.

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The Supreme Court had last week reversed  the Delhi High court verdict of 2009 which had struck down section 377,  shocking gay right activists and even top government officials and senior politicians in the ruling Congress-led coalition.

Only the opposition nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) backed the Supreme Court judgement given its conservative vote bank and the upcoming national elections by May 2014.

In its order, upholding section 377, on December 11 the top court had asked the government to legislate in parliament if it wanted to make gay sex legal.

The government, in its review petition before the Supreme Court, requested that the hearing be held in open court.  The reason for this plea is that generally review petitions are decided in the chambers of judges, reports said.

The petition contended that the apex court verdict was  "unsustainable", on 76 different grounds.  Among other things, it argued that the judgment “suffers from errors apparent on the face of the record, and is contrary to well-established principles of law laid down by this court enunciating the width and ambit of Fundamental Rights under Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution."

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Al Jazeera
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