India decriminalizes gay sex in landmark verdict

India's top court is expected to rule on gay sex

The historic decision of the Supreme Court to decriminalise part of the 158-year-old colonial law under Section 377 of the IPC, which criminalises consensual consensual gay sex, has been welcomed wholeheartedly by nearly every section of society.

People celebrate after the Supreme Court's verdict of decriminalizing gay sex and revocation of the Section 377 law, inside the Supreme Court premises in New Delhi, India, September 6, 2018. TV reports quoted him as saying LGBT community has equal rights, and that Section 377 is irrational.

Gay sex is considered taboo by many in socially conservative India, and it was reinstated as a criminal offense in 2013 after four years of decriminalization.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party had said it would support any decision by the Supreme Court but one prominent member of the party criticised the court ruling.

This high court judgement was overturned in 2013 by the apex court which also dismissed the review plea against which the curative petitions were filed which are pending. Even bringing the case to court was viewed as risky, Ayesha Kapur, one of the dozens of plaintiffs in the case, said.

"History owes an apology to these people and their families".

"No one can escape who they are..." She said that this historical injustice has been on account of the "ignorance of the majority" to recognise queer sexual expression and its complexity.

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However, certain clauses of the Section 377 like unnatural sex with animals or children are still in place.

"The constitution is a dynamic document, having the primary objective of establishing a dynamic and inclusive society", the judgment of CJI Misra and J Khanwilkar.

The 1861 law, a relic of Victorian England that hung on long after the end of British colonialism, was a weapon used to discriminate against India's gay community, the judges ruled in a unanimous decision.

The court announced the verdict in Delhi on Thursday morning drawing cheers from a crowd of LBGTI Indians and their supporters gathered on a lawn outside the building.

On its official Twitter handle, the Congress said, "We join the people of India & the LGBTQIA+ community in their victory over prejudice". "I don't know how it will change our lives yet but it helps us lead them without fear or depression".

The Delhi High Curt had in 2009 decriminalised sex between consenting adults of the same gender by holding the penal provision as "illegal". Thanks to the tireless efforts of LGBTI activists and their lawyers, this human rights milestone is now a reality. "We know we have a long way to go in terms of right to adoption, right to marriage but it is a very welcome beginning", Joshi said.For many activists, this was the harbinger of better days to come.

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