India's top court to deliver landmark gay sex ruling

India's top court to rule on decriminalizing gay sex

The Guardian reports India's highest court has struck down a 160-year-old law banning consensual gay sex, with another justice noting that "history owes an apology to members of the [gay] community for the delay in ensuring their rights" by keeping Section 377 on the books.

"Any consensual sexual relationship between two consenting adults - homosexuals, heterosexuals or lesbians - can not be said to be unconstitutional", said Misra, as he read out the judgement.

"Social morality can not violate the rights of even one single individual", said CJI Misra and Justice Khanwilkar.

"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". But The struggle of minorities is not an easy one this paves the way for a lot of other reforms" said Harish Iyer, an LGBTQ activist who filed an impleadment application on Section 377 "But as of now, we are simply celebrating. 'What happens in our bedroom is left to us'. The justices termed sexual orientation as a "biological phenomenon" and said any discrimination on this ground violated fundamental rights.

Observing that the Constitution nurtured dissent as a "safety valve" of the society, he said "we cannot change the history but can pave a way for better future".

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.

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"Any act of the description covered under Section 377 IPC done between two individuals without the consent of any one of them would invite penal liability under Section 377 IPC", the apex court said in its landmark verdict.

The five petitioners who challenged the law said it was discriminatory and led to gay people living in fear of being harassed and prosecuted by police. "I am proud to see modern India finally live up to the liberal values of our great ancestors in this regard".

"India was the most populous country in the world that still had a law on the books criminalizing gay sex". Transgendered people known as "hijras" have been a common sight in India for centuries. But their treatment - both shunned as impure, and embraced for the belief that they can bring powerful blessings - reflects the complexities of gay life here.

The day has been seized and made into a historic moment for those whose very existence, identity, choices were considered a criminal act and posed a question on their survival and freedom in India. Some high-profile Bollywood films have dealt with gay issues. "Gay rights can not just be in the court room, but in the hearts and minds of the people". In an interview earlier this year, lawmaker Subramanian Swamy, a prominent member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), described the legalization of gay sex as a "danger to national security" and "against Hindutva".

The ruling was appealed, and in 2016 the Supreme Court agreed to revisit the case. "Now we have the legal rights".

He said that out of the many layers of the judgment, the most significant part was where "we try and give individual dignity, the autonomy, the choice and liberty of an individual, some substantive content".

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