Gay Rights: India Rejects Colonial-Era Criminalization

Landmark decision for gay right in India

While you were sleeping some exciting developments took place regarding gay rights in India, the largest democracy in the world, India, has struck down a Colonial-Era law prohibiting gay marriage.

In 2013, the courts deemed acts of homosexuality an “unnatural offence” which became known by its designation by law “section 377”. Now the courts have determined discrimination based on sexual preference a violation of fundamental human rights.

The 2013 decision that shocked the gay community

Campaigners outside the courthouse welled up with tears and cheered on the decision regarding gay rights in India while religious groups voiced strong opposition. However, this decision in their Supreme Court is final and cannot be challenged.

What was section 377?

A 157-year-old Colonia-Era ruling deemed certain sexual acts as non-permissible and, if caught, the offender could serve up to ten years in jail.

While the law did not specify the LGBT community a clause added, “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal,” which many claim the police used to harass the gay community.

Where did this start?

Bids to repeal the decision of section 377 began in 2001 when fights between the courts and government delayed any official decision on the matter. Finally, in 2009 movement came in the form of a motion by the courts in New Delhi in favor of decriminalization.

Unfortunately, in 2013 religious groups moved to have that decision struck down and have section 377 reinstated. Activists moved for a “curative position”, a reexamination of the motion as a “miscarriage of justice” against gay rights in India. In 2016 the courts agreed to revisit the ruling.

People across India have expressed their surprised and joy by the decision:

You can view the celebrations as the judgment was handed down:

The courts made clear that the section remained in force for sexual acts with children and animals, added that decisions referred solely to individual rights and not the rights related to marriage and inheritance.

I looked up several gay celebrities in India that may have spoken on gay rights and was remiss to find only one update on the topic. Apparently, while this may be a landmark decision, taboo around the subject remains.





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