LGBTQI

India’s Supreme Court Considers Decriminalising Gay Sex

The Indian Supreme Court recently started hearing a case against one of the most ancient laws to exist today – Section 377 that criminalises consensual gay sex. The debate against Section 377 references to wider issues concerning the state of equal rights in the country. From United States and Canada to England and Nepal, international laws similar to Section 377 have been pulled back around the world.

Dating back to its pre-colonial era, India has had a history of tolerance and ease towards same-sex love and gender fluidity. Visual depictions and oral histories of gods transforming into goddesses, men becoming pregnant are common throughout Hinduism – the predominant religion among Indians. Nevertheless, the British Empire brought with it rigid Victorian laws and codes of morality against gender non-conformity and same sex love. The British introduced

Section 377 in the 1860s, awarding life sentence to anyone voluntarily engaging in carnal intercourse, considered against the ‘natural order’. This punishment extends not only to sex amongst men but also any form of oral or anal sex.

Given the archaic notes of morality attached to this law, equal rights activists and lawyers are questioning the constitutionality of it. As per an important court ruling issued last year, every citizen of the country, irrespective of his or her sexual orientation and identification is entitled to exercise his or her right to privacy. Section 377 stands against this very right to privacy. Additionally, it gives standing ground to those who wish to harass, blackmail or even sexually assault transgender and gay people.

Indian Psychiatric Society’s announcement in favour of decriminalisation of Article 377 has been a huge win for the LGBTQI community. They released an announcement claiming that homosexuality is not a psychological or physical disorder. Furthermore, during the hearing, Justice Indu Malhotra reiterated this belief with her remark that homosexuality is also observed in animals. It can thus, not be considered outside the purview of the natural order.

Mr. Keshav Suri, Executive director of The LaLiT Group was also among others who filed a petition against Section 377. He believes that limitations imposed by this unjust law put forward the idea that India is conservative and backward, as opposed to modern and forward looking. Section 377 puts basic human rights of freedom and privacy into question. Nevertheless, he retains his faith in this country and its people. This faith is reassured with a recent upsurge of pride parades and gatherings in India, especially in the capital.

The LaLiT Group believes in the principles of inclusivity and diversity, working endlessly to build an environment that is safe and welcoming to all. The culture is inclusive of diverse points of view, experiences and backgrounds. Every individual has the desire to feel important, loved and accepted. This is forwarded with our message of #PureLove, free of any kind of discrimination and judgment. The legal battle against Article 377 may invariably be a long one, but with the undying support within and outside the LGBTQI community, victory is inevitable.

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