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India: Court Ruling Decriminalizes Gay Sex

On Thursday, 2nd of July the Delhi High Court ruled that treating consensual gay sex as a crime was discriminatory and therefore a violation of fundamental rights protected by India's constitution. We hear the response of some Indian bloggers to the ruling in this post.

Amit Varma of India Uncut says:

July 2, 2009—mark this day. It’s a big day in the history of independent India because today the Delhi High Court effectively decriminalized homosexuality. As of today, it is no longer illegal to be gay in India. I’ve often written about how India gained its independence in 1947, but Indians weren’t free in some many different ways. Well, notch one up for individual freedom. […] This doesn’t mean, of course, that we have suddenly become an enlightened society. There will still be much homophobia, stereotypes of gay people will abound in popular culture[..]. But at least it isn’t illegal any more. How big is that?

The Rational Fool quotes from the ruling:

It's a victory for secular democracy in India. In a landmark judgement, the Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah of the Delhi High Court, along with Dr. Justice S. Muralidhar, ruled in favor of the petitioner, Naz Foundation, and held that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code in its current form was violative of the of the constitutional provisions of Article 21, Article 14, and Article 15, “insofar it criminalizes consensual sexual acts of adults in private”. The ruling brings cheers not only to the LGBT community, but also to anyone who believes that liberty and equality before law cannot be held hostage to irrational beliefs and values in perpetuity.

Suriya Subramanian leaves a comment at Blogbharti to say:

I’d like to draw attention to the part of the ruling, which I think is the most important, but no one is talking about. The court did not just decriminalize homosexuality, but they went way ahead and offered people protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Harini Calamur at POV says:

About time. The State has no business to peek into our bedroom. This is not just about decriminalizing homosexuality – it is about ensuring everyone’s right to privacy.

Blogger ??! writing at This is a Title asks:

You hear that? That's the sound a stupid law makes when it's finally overturned. […] Poor cops though, one less easy money-making scheme taken away from them.

And ??! reminds us that not all the responses to the ruling have been positive, suggesting readers look at the Rediff commentboard. Here is an example of the opinions stated there, by Puneet Gera:

First time in life, I despite being Indian, accept Pakistan is a better country than India, at least gay sex is not legalised there. They have maintained their cultural values. I salute you Pakistan for your good values.

Szerelem is thrilled:

My friend informs me, via her lawyer brother, that while the judgement was passed by the Delhi High Court it is applicable all over the country, till overturned by specific states. This (a) makes the verdict even more awesome and (b) makes me wonder if/ when/ where it will be overturned, though hopefully not at all, because the judgement was way too long coming. Also, &#@$ you to the mullahs, right wing hindutva types and general assholes who seem to populate discussion forums in this country and are decrying this.

However, Dilnavaz Bamboat at Ultra Violet believes there is plenty more to be fought for:

While the decriminalization of consensual gay sex is indeed a victory for those rooting for orientation-equality, constricted notions of propriety continue to be imposed on basic choices deemed even remotely threatening to social fabric. A case in point being denim. I kid you not. Jeans, according to the Uttar Pradesh Principals Association, may well be the root of degenerate teen behavior. Scrap the blue stuff and voila! We’ll have model citizens.
The two may be seemingly unrelated but they point to a constant struggle to assert our right to self-expression and fundamental choices. And remind us that it’s far from over. Self-determination, for the most part, is still sitting pretty in the latter half of a dictionary.

The thumbnail image ‘Bangalore Gay Pride Parade‘ is by Flickr user nickjohnson and used under a Creative Commons license.
  • Akhtar Javed Usmani

    The acts of homosexuality are in scriptures of Konark and Khajuraho. The story of Gaznavi and Ayaz the slave is in Urdu poetry. In Egypt and with the ancient stories of ancient Israel and almost in ever civilisations it was present. It is the Jail, Juvenile or other wise and in barracks as U S A has to recognise it and every where as a biological need or as psychological console. God should not come in between. The Indian society does not approve of it so was every other society. But some states realized that the homosexuality amongst human can not be wished away. It was always there and stays. The only question remains about it, is its acceptance. No doubt it is odd, but it is human too. Honourable Justice Michel Kirby, AC, CMG High Court of Australia while delivering key note address at Kuala Lumpur in April 2002 during the workshop on Judicial accountability organised by Commonwealth Lawyer Association observed that, “The criminalisation of homosexual acts, even when performed in private by consenting adults reflected, in part, understandings of religious texts. But it also reflected a general ignorance about the causes and incidence of homosexuality in every society. After the research of Alfred Kinsley and other scientist in 1940s and 1950, it became evident that, in the human species, as in other mammals, a small proportion of the population is irreversibly and exclusively homosexual by sexual orientation. The percentage is probably about 4% in males somewhat less in females. It is not a \choice\ or a \lifestyle\, selected by a few stubborn people selected by stubborn people to defy the society. It is part of the person’s being: just as skin colour, gender or other imprints of nature\.
    Strong advocacy went on describing the homos as minority. What is needed is amendment in section 377 of IPC, on lines above about consenting adults in private. There were forced acts, sodomized of the children; it must be punished more rigorously.

  • Pingback: Global Voices Online » South Asia: Looking Back At 2009

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