Home / Life & Etc / India’s Supreme Court Upholds a Law Criminalizing Gay Sex
India’s Supreme Court Upholds a Law Criminalizing Gay Sex

India’s Supreme Court Upholds a Law Criminalizing Gay Sex

LGBT India 2

The Supreme Court has upheld the “moral values” of India, and rejected the 2009 ruling by Delhi High Court decriminalizing gay sex. In this surprise setback for the gay-rights movement in India, the Supreme Court say the old law was still constitutionally valid and could only be changed or erased by Parliament, not the courts.

People across India were shocked by the decision. Most legal experts and activists had expected the country’s highest court to uphold the landmark decision, which had been seen as a crucial first step in empowering India’s gay community. The Indian government had no official reaction to the judgment Wednesday. Some officials said they needed more time to study the court decision.

LGBT India 4LGBT India 6LGBT India 5India has been struggling for the past year with concerns about the safety of women within its borders following the gang rape and murder of a student in the capital last December. India has been scrambling to modernize its institutions and laws to better protect women from sexual violence, which some see as a conservative backlash against the rising empowerment of women in the world’s largest democracy.

And while few people have actually been prosecuted over the years under Section 377, gay and lesbian groups say the law was often used by corrupt police officers and others to harass people and extort money. It also sometimes made it impossible for people that were openly gay to go to the government authorities or the courts when they needed them.

India’s gay and lesbian citizens have been slowly coming out of the closet in recent years, particularly in urban centers, including Mumbai and Delhi, which now hold large gay-pride rallies every year. Still, for most Indian families homosexuality isn’t accepted, forcing many to hide their orientation from co-workers, friends and relatives.

The Supreme Court also left open the option of having Parliament change or abolish the law, an unlikely avenue to a quick resolution for the issue, particularly as India heads toward national elections next year. Activists said they would continue fighting for the rights of gay Indians.

LGBT India 7Former MP, Attorney General and Premier of BC, Ujjal Dosanjh, wrote on his blog, “The Supreme Court of India’s most recent judgement declaring homosexuality to be a crime is a cruel throwback to more primitive times. In Canada, justice minister Pierre Trudeau in the late 60s before he became the Prime Minister of Canada had declared that the state had no business in the bedrooms of the nation. Homosexuality was decriminalised then. I have not lived in India since December 31, 1964. As the land that gave me birth and nurtured me for the first 17 years of my life India has never been too far from my thoughts.

The Delhi High court had declared the current law to be unconstitutional thereby decriminalising homosexuality. The government of India has been doing hypocritical gyrations on this issue. The central government has behaved totally without principle and ethics. The Supreme Court of India is allegedly an activist court. They wander into law making in the blink of an eye on matters such as the red light domes on’ VIP’ cars. Not something most Indians could argue with. On matters of courage of conscience such as real human rights for gay and lesbian Indians the mighty Justices have shown an utter lack of judicial intestinal fortitude.

I write on this issue both as a Canadian and an Indian. Canada now allows same sex marriage. When I was the Attorney General in the 90s in British Columbia I shepherded legislation in the BC Legislature providing for survivorship rights to pensions for the surviving common law or married gay and lesbian couples. I also successfully pushed through the legislature changes to family law providing for alimony and child support for separated gay and lesbian spouses. I was the first Attorney General and Premier of any province in Canada to walk in a Gay Pride Parade.”

Politicians React:

LGBT India Sonia GandhiSonia Gandhi: I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has reversed a previous Delhi High Court ruling on the issue of gay rights. The HC had wisely removed an archaic, repressive and unjust law that infringed on basic human rights enshrine din our Constitution. This Constitution has given us a great legacy, a legacy of liberalism of openness, that enjoin us to combat prejudice and discrimination of any kind. We are proud that our culture has always been an inclusive and tolerant one. The Sc also suggested another course. I hope the Parliament will address this issue and uphold the constitutional guarantee of life and liberty to all citizens of India, including those affected by this judgement.

LGBT India Rahul GandhiRahul Gandhi: I personally believe that these are matters of personal freedom. I think, I would agree more with High Court  verdict. I think these matters should be left to the individuals. These are personal choices. This country is known for its freedom, freedom of expression. So let that be.

Aam Aadmi Party: The Supreme Court judgment thus criminalizes the personal behaviour of consenting adults. All those who are born with or choose a different sexual orientation would thus be placed at the mercy of the police. This not only violates the human rights of such individuals, but goes against the liberal values of our constitution and the spirit of our times

JDU MP Shivanand Tiwari: I don’t support the Supreme Court decision. I think the Delhi High Court order was practical and constitutional. This happens in society and if people believe it is natural for them, why is the Supreme Court trying to stop them?

LGBT India ChidambaramP. Chidambaram: It’s gone back to 1860. I don’t want to take names but those politicians opposing it, it’s unfortunate. The government must go for review petition or curative petition. The Govt is considering all options to restore the High Court verdict on #377. We must decriminalise adult consensual relationships.

Law & Justice Minister Kapil Sibal: The Govt is considering all options to restore the High Court verdict on #377. We must decriminalise adult consensual relationships.

LGBT India Omar AbdullahOmar Abdullah @abdullah_omar: Questions of morality or religion are not the issue. How can a lifestyle choice be illegal? SC removes red lights for equality yet not #377.

Amnesty International India chief executive G. Ananthapadmanabhan: This is a black day for all of us citizens of modern India; we are very disappointed by the verdict.It is going to be a long and uncertain route now. There’s no doubt that a historic move has been lost.

Bollywood Reacts:

LGBT India AmitabhAmitabh Bachchan: The Supreme Court has passed judgment that homosexuality is a crime…and that has triggered a massive reaction among those that have till now had the preference of choice, as per human rights, to lead their life the way they wish to…I wonder where this shall lead to.

Filmmaker Onir: I am angry by the SC ruling on IPC 377. Very very disappointed that the bench of the Supreme Court hold us to regressive colonial 153-year-old IPC 377. A dark day for the history of judiciary and human rights in India.

Prem Panicker @prempanicker: Justice Sanghvi said “read the judgment and you’ll know”. Ok, read the judgment. What to say? Ignorance was bliss. Knowledge is appalling.

LGBT India John AbrahamJohn Abraham: Bollywood recent hit movie “Dostana” actor said “India has harboured archaic prejudices once again… The Supreme Court has criminalized homosexuality… Shame.”

Karan Johar: Section 377 is not just a violation of human rights but also makes democracy seem like a mirage in our country.

Rahul Bose: So much for those believing the judiciary is ‘the last bastion of common sense’ in this country.

Chetan Bhagat: What? Consensual gay sex ruled illegal in 2014? Shows you how badly India needs new young leaders with a modern outlook.

LGBT India Aamir KhanAamir Khan: Famous  TV show “Satyamev Jayate” anchor said “I am more disappointed with this judgement. It feels very intolerant and violative of basic human rights. It’s a shame.”

Anupam Kher: We obviously don’t believe in equal rights even in the times when we send Mangalayan to Mars.

Neha Dhupia: How can love be illegal?

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw: #Sec377 is 150 yrs old n has no relevance today. The world has accepted the inalienable right to his/her right to sexuality as per Art 14/21

LGBT India Dia MirzaDia Mirza, actress tweeted @deespeak: I am ashamed. #377 there is nothing more frightening than the revelation that the guardians of democracy have turned undemocratic.

Derek O’Brien @quizderek: Way back in 2006 I spoke up to decriminalize #Sec377 along with Amartya Sen, Vikram Seth, Shyam Benegal & others

Riteish Deshmukh @Riteishd: Supreme Mis-judgement #Section377

LGBT India Celina JaitleyCelina Jaitly @CelinaJaitly: Naz India joins a shameful list of cases where SC has removed rights given by a lower court… This decision will ruin many lives.

Anushka Sharma: Freedom is such a deceptive term. Rights are an ambiguous mystery.

Shruti Haasan: Its frightening how someone else decides how when and who you should love — basically freedom of choice isn’t legal anymore.

Anand Gandhi, director: Only a highly uninformed mind can have [the] arrogance of assuming that consenting adults having sex is any of their business.

Farhan Akhtar: The Supreme Court got it wrong today.

Actress Mia Farrow: Canceled trip to India. My wife and I would not feel welcome there… Well- when I have a wife-we won’t be going to India.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*