Delhi

Gay sex is no longer a crime, rules SC

The Hush Post: The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that gay sex among consenting adults is not an offence anymore. Earlier, gay sex was punishable by up to 10 years of jail under Section 377 of the Indian constitution, which ruled sexual activities “against the order of nature” and was interpreted as referring to homosexuality.

Section 377 is replicated from Britain’s Buggery Act of 1533 statute in India though it was scrapped in Britain long back.

The Delhi High Court had decriminalised consensual gay sex in 2009 but the top court had cancelled the order four years later, ruling that only parliament should be changing the laws.

In 2016, the Supreme Court, however, agreed to hear a petition by five prominent members of the LGBT, or lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community Bharatnatyam dancer Navtej Johar, culture expert Aman Nath, restaurateurs Ritu Dalmia and Ayesha Kapur and mediaperson Sunil Mehra, challenging the constitutionality of section 377.

The court later set up a five-judge bench to look at the provision which violated fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution which concluded the hearing in July.

Long before the constitution bench delivered the verdict on Thursday, the five judges had dropped enough hints about what they thought of the nearly 160-year-old archaic law.

Like when Chief Justice Misra observed that the LGBT community felt the stigma “because of the criminality attached” and homosexuals can get together once it is removed. On other occasions, the judges had made it clear that consent was going to be the key and no one could impose their sexual orientation on others.

At other times, the judges observed that the law could not deny the LGBT community their right to privacy even if they make up for a “minuscule fraction” of the population.

It had also underlined that the top court wasn’t going to wait for a “majoritarian government to enact, amend or not to enact any law to deal with violations of fundamental rights.”

Categories: Delhi, Legal

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