Indian Supreme Court Decriminalizes Gay Sex

Supreme Court’s announcement of decriminalization of gay sex on Thursday morning has drawn cheers from a crowd of LBGTI campaigners and their supporters gathered on a lawn outside the Court in New Delhi.
The court heard petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Section 377 – a colonial era law under which same-sex relationship is an “unnatural offence” punishable by a 10-year jail term.
“Any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates fundamental rights,” the Supreme Court said in Thursday’s ruling.
“The constitution is a living organic document. Social morality cannot be used to violate the fundamental rights of even a single individual. Constitutional morality cannot be martyred at the altar of social morality.”
The decision appears to mark the end of a fraught path to legalising homosexuality in modern India. Early cases filed in 1994 and then 2001 bounced back and forth for years between higher courts reluctant to wade into the issue.
In 2009, the Delhi high court struck down Section 377 of the Indian penal code, finding its ban on “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” breached the rights to life, liberty and equality enshrined in the country’s constitution.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has been silent on the issue of homosexuality so far. The government told the top court it would leave the decision to “the wisdom of the court”.
Neighbouring China decriminalised homosexuality in 1997 and with this landmark ruling in India, a majority of Asians now will not face criminal charges for their sexual identities.
“It is indeed a historic moment for India, the world’s largest democracy and a global power on the rise. So the world is watching, and its neighbours are watching,” Lieu Anh Vu, Asia coordinator at the Geneva-based International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), told.
“LGBTI communities in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh are also working to repeal similar remnant of British colonisation in their own country and the ruling from India will feed into more dialogues, at least among LGBTI civil society across these countries,” she added.
>Juthy Saha