India Decriminalizes Homosexuality; Strikes Down Colonial-Era Law

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India's Supreme Court is expected to rule on a colonial-era law criminalizing consensual gay sex Thursday, potentially overturning more than 150-years of anti-LGBT legislation. It termed sexual orientation a "biological phenomenon" and held any discrimination on this ground was violative of fundamental rights. "The judges have been extremely empathetic", Akhilesh Godi, one of the petitioners in the case, told Reuters news agency.

The top court, while pronouncing the verdict on a batch of seven petitions it was hearing, the court said, "Homosexuality is not an offence". The court ruled discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a fundamental violation of human rights. Though the decision technically only applied to the Delhi region, it was quickly overruled by the Supreme Court in 2013, following a petition launched by a loose coalition of Christian, Hindu and Muslim groups.

Justice Chandrachud said that denying rights to sexual orientation is denial of right to privacy.

Homosexuality has a tangled history in India, and some of Hinduism's most ancient texts are accepting of gay sex.

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Justice Chandrachud said, "This case is much more than just decriminalising a provision It is about an aspiration to realise Constitutional rights and equal existence of LGBT community as other citizens". Make way for the progressive realisation of social and economic rights and to begin a dialogue for ensuring individual rights reports, have to bid adieu to perception stereotypes.

The Section 377 verdict is being cheered by millions across India now. "The recognition of equal citizenship, that is the business of life, so that they know they are loved, protected".

Section377 of IPC insofar as it criminalises consensual sexual acts between man and man, man and woman or woman and woman is unconstitutional and struck down.

CJI Misra, who wrote the judgment for himself and Justice Khanwilkar, said the denial of self-expression was akin to inviting death.

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"Why do politicians sometimes hand over power to judges and we see that happening in the Supreme Court everyday".

The Delhi High Court decriminalised gay sex in 2009, but the Supreme Court reinstated legal sanctions in 2014 after a successful appeal by religious groups. The ruling is also a rebuke of British colonial rule in the 1860s, when the law was spurred by Victorian-era mores.

Across Indian cities there was an outpouring of joy when the Supreme Court finally made its decision.

Added fellow petitioner Ritu Dalmia, "This is the first step in a fight against homophobia ..."

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"Any act of the description covered under Section 377 IPC done between two individuals without the consent of any one of them would invite penal liability under Section 377 IPC", the apex court said in its landmark verdict. Even as Britain has come up with laws which uphold the rights of the members of the LGBTQ community, India is still battling to understand its constitutional validity.

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