India legalizes gay sex, ruling discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation a human rights violation

"Criminalizing carnal intercourse is irrational, arbitrary and manifestly unconstitutional."

243
SOURCENationofChange
Image Credit: Aijaz Rahi/Associated Press

A colonial-era law against gay sex was voted down by India’s top court on Thursday. The landmark ruling was celebrated throughout India and other parts of South Asia.

While gay sex is taboo for many Indian conservatives, including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan and was punishable by up to 10 years in prison, India’s Supreme Court ruled that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a fundamental violation of rights.

“Any consensual sexual relationship between two consenting adults – homosexuals, heterosexuals or lesbians – cannot be said to be unconstitutional,” Dipak Misra, the Chief Justice of India, said. “Criminalizing carnal intercourse is irrational, arbitrary and manifestly unconstitutional.”

The law, known as Section 377, was put in place during British rule in South Asia over a century-and-a-half ago, Reuters reported. It banned “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal.” While the battle to repeal the colonial law started in 2001, it was happened in 2009, but only lasted four years before it was reinstated in 2013 after Suresh Kumar Kaushal, an astrologer, legally challenged it under the basis it would erode traditional society, Reuters reported.

While the ruling could face a legal challenge, the five-judge bench unanimously ruled in overturning the ban and supporters of the campaign celebrated in the streets, many overcome by emotion cheering and waving banners that read “Gay and Proud” and “I am who I am.”

“We are no longer criminals, (but) it will take time to change things on the ground – 20 to 30 years, maybe,” Debottam Saha, one of the petitioners, said.

The ruling, which now allows gay sex among consenting adults in private, is the final say in the matter with one of the ruling judges stating “history owes an apology” to LGBT people for ostracizing them, Justice Indu Malhotra said in her 50-page verdict.

“History owes an apology to the members of this community and their families, for the delay in providing redressal for the ignominy and ostracism that they have suffered through the centuries,” Malhotra said. “The members of this community were compelled to live a life full of fear of reprisal and persecution.”

FALL FUNDRAISER

If you liked this article, please donate $5 to keep NationofChange online through November.

Fall 2019

$
Select Payment Method
Personal Info

Credit Card Info
This is a secure SSL encrypted payment.

Donation Total: $5.00 One Time

COMMENTS