India's top court decriminalizes gay sex

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India's Supreme Court has struck down a colonial-era law criminalizing consensual gay sex, overturning more than 150 years of anti-LGBT legislation.

The landmark ruling, which declared sexual orientation to be an essential attribute of privacy and that discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation was unlawful, has galvanized campaigners. Kavi was one of the petitioners in the case along with four other people from the Trust that works the area of health and human rights of sexual minorities.

During the last hearing session seeking the scrapping of Section 377, the Centre passed the buck on Supreme Court and said that the Constitutionality of 377 is to be decided by the Court.

SC says that Section 377 of the IPC was used to terrorise the members of the LGBTQ community.

The apex court also said India was a signatory of global treaties on rights of LGBTQ and it was obligatory to adhere to them.

Conservative Hindu and Muslim groups in India claim homosexuality disrupts traditional social order.

He said: "Any consensual sexual relationship between two consenting adults - homosexuals, heterosexuals or lesbians - can not be said to be unconstitutional". Social morality can not be used to violate the fundamental rights of even a single individual.

"Social stigma will go if criminality of gay sex under Section 377 goes".

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As the New York Times notes, the justices made it clear that they knew they were making a historic decision.

Thank you Supreme Court, and congratulations India!

A bid to repeal section 377 was initiated in 2001 and was batted between court and government until 2009 when the Delhi High Court ruled in favor of decriminalization.

"I don't want to sound pessimistic but I don't think we will see gay marriage in my lifetime", he said. The rule of law requires a just law which facilitates equality, liberty and dignity in all its facets.

Five high-profile petitioners - Bharatnatyam dancer Navtej Singh Johar, journalist Sunil Mehra, restaurateur Ritu Dalmia, Neemrana hotel chain co-founder Aman Nath, and businesswoman Ayesha Kapur - argue that Section 377 violates the rights enshrined in the Constitution.

In its order, the apex court said, "The declaration of the aforesaid reading down of Section 377 shall not, however, lead to the reopening of any concluded prosecutions, but can certainly be relied upon in all pending matters, whether they are at the trial, appellate, or revisional stages".

The decision of the Supreme Court has garnered reactions from many quarters, from United Nations to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Initially, the bench debated whether it should look at larger questions beyond sexual orientation but CJI Misra finally observed that the issue of the section's constitutionality should be settled first. 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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