Indian top court says gay sex is an offence

Supreme Court upholds law criminalising gay sex, setting aside lower court decision legalising homosexuality.

    India's Supreme Court has upheld a law criminalising gay sex, setting aside a landmark lower court decision in 2009 which had overturned the colonial-era ban on homosexuality.

    The court on Wednesday held that an homosexual act was punishable under Section 377 of the Indian penal code, reports quoting the judgement said.

    A bench of justice G S Singhvi and justice SJ Mukhopadhaya delivered the verdict after hearing petitions of  anti-gay right activists besides social and religious organisations against the earlier Delhi high court order of  2009.

    The top court came down heavily on the federal government describing its approach as “casual” and said it was concerned that the Indian parliament had not thought fit to discuss the issue.

    'Tolerant Indian society'

    The federal government had welcomed the ruling of the earlier Delhi High court on the grounds that the section 377 of the Indian penal code was a relic of the British colonial law and that Indian society was much more tolerant towards homosexuality, reports said.

    The Delhi high court on July 2, 2009, had ruled that sex between two consenting adults in private would not be an offence.

    Section 377 (unnatural offences) of the IPC makes gay sex a criminal offence, and can result in imprisonment for life.

    Senior BJP politician BP Singhal, who died in October 2012, was among those who had challenged the high court verdict on the grounds that such acts were “illegal, immoral and against the ethos of Indian culture”, the reports said.

    Others who challenged the high court judgment included the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Utkal Christian Council and Apostolic Churches Alliance.

    Dismay

    Gay activists reacted with dismay and anger at the apex court verdict. Anand Grover, the counsel for Naz Foundation which was the original petitioner in the high court, was quoted as saying they were disappointed with the verdict. Stating it was not correct in law, he said they would appeal for a review of the judgment. 

    Popular historian Ramachandra Guha tweeted that the verdict was a step backward towards "barbarism and medievalism".

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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