- Gay pride parade in New Delhi, 2009
[Updated July 20]
India’s Supreme Court has refused to put on hold a landmark court judgement decriminalising gay sex in the country. That story is on BBC here.
Hearing a public interest litigation, the Delhi High Court has ruled that consensul sex between adults of the same gender is, finally, legal. Read that story on CNN here.
In Kafila, Nivedita Menon says ‘three queers for the Delhi High Court’. That story here.
To download the full text of the 105-page Delhi High Court judgment on pdf click here [courtesy Kafila]
One day before India’s second national Gay Pride parades kicked off in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, the Congress-led UPA government hinted that it might do away with a 150-year-old law, drafted by Lord Macaulay, that makes homosexual acts a criminal offence.
India’s gay and lesbian community has long been asking for the government to decriminalise section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that makes sexual acts ‘against the order of nature’ a crime that carries a punishment of up to 10 years in jail. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and writers like Vikram Seth had, as far back as 2006, issued an open appeal to ask the government to do away with this section. And Naz Foundation, an NGO committed to spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS had in 2002 filed a public interest litigation in the Delhi High Court asking for section 377 to be amended.
During UPA-1, then health minister Anbumani Ramadoss had considered the idea of decriminalising homosexuality, arguing that pushing homosexuals underground only encouraged the spread of HIV. But Ramadoss encountered stiff resistance from the then home minister Shivraj Patil (sacked in the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai terror strike) on the grounds that repealing the act, or even watering it down, would encourage delinquent behaviour.
Now, with UPA-2 picking up reforms with zealous fervour, law minister Veerappa Moily has said that he is in favour of a ‘review’ of the law and that home minister P Chidambaram is also in favour of the idea. The ministers will now call for a formal meeting with health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to find out his views.
Yet, even as the gay and lesbian community rejoiced over the news, there are signs that the Centre will find it very difficult to build a consensus on the issue with religious leaders already rejecting the idea and the BJP Opposition cautioning restraint (read that story here).
Is it time to say bye bye to section 377? What do you think? Do send in your comments.
Meanwhile, read about this developing story here, here and here. Also, what was ancient India’s stand on same-sex relationships? Read Manoj Mitta’s story in the Times of India here.