Consensual Gay Sex Legal After Landmark Indian Court Ruling



Image Credit: Scenes of jubilation outside the Supreme Court in Dehli on Thursday courtesy of @ReformTheNorm Instagram

Years of struggle by LGBT activists finally came to fruition on Thursday, when India's Supreme Court repealed Section 377 of the penal code, which made consensual homosexual sex illegal and punishable with a maximum sentence of life in prison. The decision means that consensual gay sex in private is now legal.

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code dates back to 1866 during British rule and LGBT activists have been working to have it repealed since 2001. In 2009, the Delhi High Court legalized homosexuality between consenting adults, deeming Section 377 unconstitutional. However, in 2013 the Supreme Court overturned this decision, forcing gay people back into the closet.

Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that privacy is a fundamental constitutional right and that sexuality is an "essential attribute of privacy," paving the way for the Supreme Court to overturn the 2013 verdict and repeal Section 377.

There were emotional celebrations outside the Supreme Court in Delhi and on social media after the five judge panel unanimously agreed that "Criminalising carnal intercourse is irrational, arbitrary and manifestly unconstitutional."

Christian, Muslim and hardline Hindu religious groups, people in rural areas and India's ruling party strongly oppose LGBT rights. However, the majority of people in India's major cities support repealing Section 377 and Thursday's Supreme Court decision is final.


Image Credit: Scenes of relief and joy outside the Supreme Court in Dehli on Thursday courtesy of @ReformTheNorm Instagram

Equality campaigners will now turn their attention to changing community attitudes towards LGBT people, who have suffered from harassment, blackmail and extortion attempts because of Section 377.

"The next step is to start looking at issues of rights," LGBT rights campaigner Anjali Gopalan, who was instrumental in the fight to repeal Section 377, told CNN. "The right that every citizen of the country should have access to and should not be taken for granted. Like the right to marry, the right to adopt, the right to inherit. Things that no one questions and that are clearly denied to a certain section of citizens."

#LGBTRIghtsIndia #IndiaGaySexRuling

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