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Top Court's Historic Verdict: Homosexuality Decriminalised

07 September 2018

File PicIn a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court today decriminalised consensual same-sex acts.

The law against gay sex, known as "Section 377", was introduced during British rule of South Asia more than a century-and-a-half ago. "The judges in the case had previously said that gay people in India face deep-rooted trauma and live in fear".

The high court's ruling represents the culmination of a years-long battle to achieve equal rights for gays and lesbians.

Arun Kumar, a spokesman for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the parent organization of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, said Indian society "traditionally does not recognize" gay relationships, the Press Trust of India news agency reported. The ruling puts pressure on other South Asian nations which still take a hard line on gay rights. "Hopefully things will change", he said.

They added: "Bodily autonomy is individualistic".

The United Nations welcomed the ruling: "The UN in India sincerely hopes that the court's ruling will be the first step towards guaranteeing the full range of fundamental rights to LGBTI persons". Our fight for equality doesn't end with the reading down of section 377. Justice Nariman said homosexuality can not be regarded as "mental disorder" and homosexuals had the right to live with dignity.

The law banned "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal" - which was widely interpreted to refer to homosexual sex. This will create a huge discourse around the rights of LGBT persons and it is being ordered by the court to be disseminated in a wide way.

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Justice Indu Malhotra said that "history owes an apology to the LGBTQ community for denying them their rights".

The LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer) community welcomed the verdict that also said the society can not dictate a sexual relationship between consenting adults. What is Section 377 of IPC? "NALSA was reiterated by at least three of them-Justice Mishra, Justice Chandrachud and Justice Nariman", said Ranganathan. Then last August, the supreme court said privacy is a fundamental right. This is a massive progressive step forward for the second most populous country in the world, with ripple effects that could extend to other countries litigating gay rights. "The recognition of equal citizenship, that is the business of life, so that they know they are loved, protected".

A five-judge bench in India's Supreme Court was unanimous in overturning the ban. This led to a fresh bunch of petitions which cited the 2017 historic judgment to read down Section 377 and decriminalize homosexuality. A senior party member, Shashi Tharoor, said the "government has no space in bedrooms as this is a private act between consenting adults".

"I can't even explain how I am feeling right now".

"Now that we are legal, we finally feel free". "It's the beginning of many more battles we have to fight". "Let's rejoice but let us also reflect", he tweeted. So, we are aware.

The NYT reports: "The court said that gay people were now entitled to all constitutional protections under Indian law and that any discrimination based on sexuality would be illegal". Still, being gay is seen as shameful in much of the country.

The judgment also said that amending or repealing Section 377 should be a matter for the Parliament. "If a law is unconstitutional, it is the duty of the court to strike it down".

Top Court's Historic Verdict: Homosexuality Decriminalised