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Gay Sex is Once Again Illegal, India's Supreme Court Rules

Written by Qurratulain Zaman On 11 December 2013 @ 23:18 pm | 4 Comments

In Breaking News, Citizen Media, Digital Activism, English, Ethnicity & Race, Gay Rights (LGBT), Human Rights, India, Protest, South Asia, Weblog

Hundreds gathered in central Delhi to protest against the Supreme Court decision toverturn a 2009 High Court ruling and instead, ruled in favour of 'Section 377,' a colonial era law which renders same sex relationships in India an illegal offense. Image by Louise Dowse. Copyright Demotix (11/12/2013) [1]

Hundreds gathered in central Delhi to protest against the Supreme Court decision to overturn a 2009 High Court ruling, and instead rule in favour of ‘Section 377,’ a colonial era law which renders same sex relationships in India an illegal offense. Image by Louise Dowse. Copyright Demotix (11/12/2013)

In a shocking ruling, the Supreme Court of India reversed a Delhi High Court judgment and reinstated a British-era draconian law that not only criminalizes [2] consensual gay sex, but also equates homosexuals with zoophiles and pedophiles. This verdict is seen as a major blow to gay rights in the country and also deprives Indians their rights of equality, no discrimination and personal liberty enshrined in the constitution [3].

However, religious parities and organizations welcomed the decision taken by the highest court of India. In 2009, Delhi High Court decriminalised homosexuality [4]. But this new verdict by the Supreme Court says that it is up to the parliament to legislate on this issue.

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code [5] is a 153-year old colonial-era law. According to this law, same-sex relationships are an “unnatural offense” and punishable by a ten-year prison sentence. Aam Janata [6] blog satirically listed what exactly is allowed and what not according to the Supreme Court guidelines for natural sex.

Writer Kamayani Bali Mahabal [7] at Krativist criticized the decision:

Today, by criminalising homosexuality, the Supreme Court has taken India back, not to 2008, but way back to the 19th century. It has betrayed the trust of the millions who came out and proudly shared their sexual orientation with friends, families, employers and the society. It has whitewashed the efforts of thousands of activists who, in the four years after the 2009 verdict, strived to make public spaces like hospitals LGBT-friendly. It has whitewashed the efforts of all those who have worked with MSM groups with full support of the government and international agencies to bring down HIV cases. It has given the likes of Baba Ramdev [8] the audacity to call 30 million people of the LGBT community “addicts” and invite them to his yoga ashram to get cured.

Blogger and activist Rita Banerji [9] questioned whether the verdict has more of a political tone rather than ethical. Shuvajit at First Post [10] mentioned that the ruling 377 turns an office environment into a nightmare for members of the LGBT community in a country where homosexuality is seen as a sin:

After this Supreme Court verdict, I know that personally, I would think ten times before being ‘out’ in my work place where I have to lead a team. In a professional role which demands leadership qualities and command over a team, admitting that you're gay has always been a huge drawback, irrespective of your talents or professional expertise. The Supreme Court verdict just legitimized the cause of that agony.

Aditya Nigam [11] at Kafila blog posted a protest announcement against the SC ruling.

Shocking! Shameful!! Disgusting!!!

The Supreme Court has struck down the Delhi High Court decision decriminalizing gay sex in what might go down as the most retrograde judgement in India’s history. While the details of the Court’s reasoning are still not available, we can perhaps easily imagine what they might be. This is time of civil disobedience. Time for protest.

Assemble at Jantar Mantar at 4.30 pm, today 11 December to announce to the world that ‘We Are All Queer’. To announce that this is not a struggle of just the ‘gay-lesbian community’ but a struggle for our most fundamental rights and cherished values.

Blank Noise [12] blog shared the press conference of gay rights advocate Gautam Bhan, who commented that “the social relevance has not been decided, its legal relevance has”:

Visvak Sen [13] at News Laundry explained the government's position on this:

They haven’t entirely made up their minds yet. The Home Ministry thinks gay sex is immoral and a reflection of a perverse mind and that its decriminalisation would lead to moral degradation. The Health Ministry disagrees and considers Section 377 a major barrier to their efforts to prevent the spread of AIDS.

There were strong reactions on Twitter to the Supreme Court decision.

Milind Deora [14], the country's Minister of State, Communications, IT and Shipping, tweeted:

Karan Johar [16], a film director and host of Koffee with Karan, wrote:

Shabana Azmi [19], an activist and film actress, called it undemocratic and against human rights:

Image from the fifth annual Delhi Queer Pride Parade 2012 in central New Delhi, India. The future of this parade is uncertain after this Supreme Court Verdict. Image by  Jiti Chadha. Copyright demotix (25/11/2012) [21]

Image from the fifth annual Delhi Queer Pride Parade 2012 in central New Delhi, India. The future of this parade is uncertain after this Supreme Court Verdict. Image by Jiti Chadha. Copyright demotix (25/11/2012)

Journalist Bukrha Dutt [22] tweeted her conversation [23]with leading author Vikram Seth [24]:

Shivam Vij, [26] Indian correspondent for CSM and co-editor of Kafila, mentioned:

Prasant Naidu [30] at Lighthouse Insights has more reactions on Twitter.


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URL to article: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/12/11/gay-sex-is-once-again-illegal-indias-supreme-court-rules/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.demotix.com/photo/3476618/indian-supreme-court-rules-against-same-sex-relationships

[2] criminalizes: http://www.dw.de/indias-top-court-does-u-turn-on-gay-sex-law/a-17288354

[3] enshrined in the constitution: http://www.tehelka.com/it-is-not-about-gays-any-more/?singlepage=1

[4] decriminalised homosexuality: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8158796.stm

[5] Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_377

[6] Aam Janata: http://aamjanata.com/supreme-court-guidelines-natural-sex/

[7] Kamayani Bali Mahabal: http://www.kractivist.org/india-sc-verdict-on-gay-sex-today-india-gave-birth-to-millions-of-criminals-sec377/

[8] Baba Ramdev: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramdev

[9] Rita Banerji: http://ritabanerjisblog.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/is-indias-supreme-court-decision-to-ban-gay-rights-more-political-than-ethical/

[10] Shuvajit at First Post: http://www.firstpost.com/living/sc-ruling-on-377-it-makes-office-a-nightmare-for-queers-1281795.html

[11] Aditya Nigam: http://kafila.org/2013/12/11/we-are-all-queer-assemble-at-jantar-mantar-against-reactionary-judgement/

[12] Blank Noise: http://blog.blanknoise.org/2013/12/the-social-relevance-has-not-been.html

[13] Visvak Sen: http://www.newslaundry.com/2013/12/20581/

[14] Milind Deora: http://www.milinddeora.in

[15] December 11, 2013: https://twitter.com/milinddeora/statuses/410709331173048320

[16] Karan Johar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karan_Johar

[17] #Sec377: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Sec377&src=hash

[18] December 11, 2013: https://twitter.com/karanjohar/statuses/410750247795572737

[19] Shabana Azmi: https://twitter.com/AzmiShabana

[20] December 11, 2013: https://twitter.com/AzmiShabana/statuses/410774089553686528

[21] Image: http://www.demotix.com/photo/1630978/delhi-queer-pride-parade-2012

[22] Bukrha Dutt: https://twitter.com/BDUTT

[23] conversation : http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/vikram-seth-on-supreme-court-verdict-on-homosexuality-highlights-457432

[24] Vikram Seth: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vikram_Seth

[25] December 11, 2013: https://twitter.com/BDUTT/statuses/410729996915712000

[26] Shivam Vij,: https://twitter.com/DilliDurAst

[27] #LGBT: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23LGBT&src=hash

[28] #India: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23India&src=hash

[29] December 11, 2013: https://twitter.com/DilliDurAst/statuses/410779840527073280

[30] Prasant Naidu: http://lighthouseinsights.in/sc-declares-homosexuality-as-illegal-lgbt-supporters-vent-out-on-twitter.html

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