India’s Supreme Court has refused to reconsider its recent verdict criminalising gay sex, that had triggered widespread outrage among gay rights activists.

The top court’s rejection, seen as a setback to gay rights groups, was delivered on Tuesday in response to a plea by India’s federal government and the non-profit Naz Foundation along with other activists for reviewing its December 11 verdict.

A bench of the court, comprising Justices H L Dattu and S J Mukhopadhaya, dismissed the bunch of petitions that attempted to challenge the December 2013 ruling which had declared gay sex an offence punishable up to life imprisonment.

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The verdict had asked the Indian parliament to amend the requisite laws to decriminalise gay sex, if it thought fit.

The review petitions argued that thousands from the LGBT (lesbian gay bisexual transgender) community had become open about their sexual identity since 2009 after the Delhi high court decriminalised gay sex. They are now facing the threat of being prosecuted, reports, quoting the petitions, said.

The petitioners also submitted that criminalising gay sex amounted to violation of fundamental rights of the LGBT community.

The NGO had submitted that there were a number of “grave errors of law” and “wrong application of law” in the judgement which needed to be corrected, agencies quoting the petitions said.

“This court has failed to consider the submission that Section 377 violates the right to health of men who have sex with men, since criminalisation of same sex activity impedes access to health services, including HIV prevention efforts,” the petitions reportedly contended.

The federal ministry of health and family welfare had backed the review petitions,  the activists said.

'Miscarriage of justice'

The government had taken the stand that the apex court should review the December verdict to “avoid grave miscarriage of justice to thousands of LGBT” persons who have been aggrieved by the apex court judgement contending it is “unsustainable” as it “suffers from errors”, reports said.

The Naz Foundation said that the verdict was contrary to the well-settled legal principles of the Constitution. Proscribing certain sexual acts between consenting adults in private, demeans and impairs the dignity of all individuals under Article 21, irrespective of their sexual orientation, reports said, quoting the Foundation’s plea.

Source: Al Jazeera