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India high court refuses to suspend homosexuality decriminalization ruling

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of India [official website] refused Monday to suspend a lower court decision [judgment, PDF; JURIST report] declaring India's anti-sodomy law unconstitutional while it hears an appeal. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court accepted a petition challenging the decision by the Delhi High Court [official website], which found that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code [text, PDF], outlawing "carnal conduct against the order of nature," runs counter to Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Article 21 of the Indian Constitution [text, PDF]. The Delhi court's ruling is binding only in the Union Territory of Delhi [official website], while the Supreme Court's ruling would be binding nationwide. The hearing is scheduled to begin September 14.

The criminalization of homosexuality has been a divisive issue around the world. In April, an appeals court in Senegal ordered the release [JURIST report] of nine members of AIDS awareness group AIDES Senegal who had been convicted of sodomy and sentenced to eight years in prison. In November, the parliament of Burundi voted to criminalize homosexuality, a move condemned [JURIST reports] by human rights groups. In December, the UN General Assembly [official website] was divided [press release; JURIST report] over the issue as 66 nations signed a statement calling for decriminalization, and nearly 60 nations signed an opposing statement.

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