Published: Sat, September 08, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Watching the SC Dump Section 377

Watching the SC Dump Section 377

BJP's parent organisation said his shortly after a five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court unanimously decriminalised part of the 158-year-old colonial law under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalises consensual unnatural sex, saying it violated the rights to equality.

The law - known as Section 377 - held that intercourse between members of the same sex was against the order of nature.

According to a recent report of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), there are eight countries in which homosexuality can result in a death penalty, and dozens more in which homosexual acts can result in a prison sentence. "It will also pave the way for anti-discrimination laws and equal opportunity laws for LGBT persons", said Gowthaman Ranganathan, a lawyer who represented one of the interveners. "The recognition of equal citizenship, that is the business of life, so that they know they are loved, protected".

Justice Malhotra reportedly said that history owed an apology to the members of the LGBT community and their families for the delay in providing redressal for the ignominy and ostracism that they have suffered through the centuries. The new ruling will provide legal protection to such people now.

Jessica Stern, the executive director of the New York-based rights group OutRight Action International, said the original law had reverberated far beyond India, including in countries where gay people still struggle for acceptance.

A panel of five judges issued a unanimous judgment striking down the provision and affirming the right to equality and dignity.

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"So many companies have been using Section 377 as a figleaf to cover their own homophobia", he said.

As the news spread, the streets outside the courthouse erupted in cheers as opponents of the law danced and waved flags. The privacy judgment struck down earlier Supreme Court judgments, that immediately had a bearing on the 2013 Section 377 order as well. The justices termed sexual orientation as a "biological phenomenon" and said any discrimination on this ground violated fundamental rights.

In his separate judgment, Justice Chandrachud also said that due to Section 377 IPC, the LGBT people were forced to live in hiding and as second-class citizens even as others enjoyed the right of sexual orientation.

The court's ruling struck down the law's sections on consensual gay sex, but let stand segments that deal with such issues as bestiality. He went on to explain, that what matters are the essential qualities of people and not the names we call people and labels we give. And we'll fight for our rights, definitely.

Seeking decriminalisation of consensual homosexuality, the NGO Naaz Foundation had first challenged Section 377 in the Delhi High Court in 2001. "We saw that in 377 where the government told us that we are leaving this to the wisdom of the court and this "wisdom of the court" was too enticing a principle for me not to respond so I responded in my judgment the other day", said Justice Chandrachud. On Twitter, several Bollywood celebrities applauded Supreme Court's decision.

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