India Supreme Court decriminalizes gay sex
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India Supreme Court decriminalizes gay sex

The Supreme Court of India on Thursday decriminalized consensual sex with members of the same sex by ruling [judgment, PDF] that part of Section 377 [text] of the Indian Penal Code violated fundamental rights.

Section 377 was introduced in 1861 during British rule of India and criminalized sexual activities with same sex partners as “unnatural offences.” The Supreme Court upheld Section 377 in 2013 but in January of this year decided to reconsider [JURIST reports] the prohibition.

In Thursday’s decision, the Supreme Court found that Section 377 is discriminatory and violates constitutional principles:

Section 377 IPC, so far as it criminalises even consensual sexual acts between competent adults, fails to make a distinction between non-consensual and consensual sexual acts of competent adults in private space which are neither harmful nor contagious to the society. Section 377 IPC subjects the LGBT community to societal pariah and dereliction and is, therefore, manifestly arbitrary, for it has become an odious weapon for the harassment of the LGBT community by subjecting them to discrimination and unequal treatment.

The court said, “history owes an apology to the members of this community and their families, for the delay in providing redressal for the ignominy and ostracism that they have suffered through the centuries.” The court also noted that the new verdict cannot re-open any concluded cases but can be relied upon for any cases that are currently pending in the judicial system.