Supreme Court strikes down Section 377; gay sex no more a crime in India

06 September 2018, 11:33 PM

The Supreme Court on Thursday decriminalises gay sex in the much-awaited verdict on a batch of pleas challenging a 158-year-old colonial law under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalised consensual gay sex.

"The five-judge Supreme Court bench, by unanimous decision, decriminalises Section 377," according to reports.

While delivering the verdict CJI Dipak Misra said, "LGBT Community has same rights as of any ordinary citizen. Respect for each others rights and others are supreme humanity. Criminalising gay sex is irrational and indefensible".

On July 17, the apex court reserved its verdict after hearing various stakeholders, including gay rights activists for four days.

Apart from Dipak Misra, the bench also consists of Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra. It heard the writ petitions filed by dancer Navtej Jauhar, journalist Sunil Mehra, chef Ritu Dalmia, hoteliers Aman Nath and Keshav Suri, business executive Ayesha Kapur and 20 former and current students of the IITs.

Here are the Highlights:

# 5: 58 pm: Soon there will be gay bars here where homosexuals can go. HIV will spread: Subramanian Swamy.

# 1: 30 pm: We have won the legal fight, but in society we still have to gain victory: LGBT activist Ankit Gupta.

# 1: 15 pm: United Nations welcomes SC’s ruling, says discrimination on gender an egregious violation of human rights.

“Welcome today’s landmark ruling by SC. Sexual orientation and gender expression form integral part of individual’s identity the world over and violence, stigma and discrimination based on these attributes constitute an egregious violation of human rights,” ANI quoted UN as saying.

# 12: 50 pm: Shashi Tharoor welcomes SC verdict to decriminalise gay sex.

# 12: 30 pm: Delhi hotel celebrates Supreme Court verdict

# 12: 16 pm: We have finally got justice. We are finally 'azaad in azaad Hind', says Ashok Row Kavi, LGBT rights activist and founder of Humsafar Trust.

# 12: 05 pm: People across India celebrate after Supreme Court in a unanimous decision decriminalises 

# 12: 01 pm: LGBT Community has same rights as of any ordinary citizen, says Supreme Court.

# 11:50 am: Five-judge Supreme Court bench by unanimous decision decriminalises Section 377

# 11:41 am: Sustenance of identity is the pyramid of life, observes Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

# 11:39 am: CJI Dipak Misra observes, "No one can escape from their individualism. Society is now better for individualism. In the present case, our deliberations will be on various spectrums."

Read | Section 377: Supreme Court reserves verdict on gay sex law

The Centre, which initially sought time for filing its response to the petitions, later put the onus of deciding the fate of Section 377 on the SC. The apex court, on the other hand, made it clear that it may not strike down the law completely since it relates to consensual acts between two adults. However, the court had assured that it would go to extinct to scrutinise the legal validity of Section 377 of the IPC in all its aspects.

In 2009, the Delhi High Court decriminalised sex between consenting adults of the same gender by holding the penal provision as "illegal". This high court judgement was later overturned in 2013 by the apex court which also dismissed the review plea against which the curative petitions were filed which are pending.

In May, the apex court had commenced hearing on the fresh writ petitions challenging re-criminalisation of consensual gay sex between two adults, rejecting the Centre's plea seeking postponement of the proceedings by four weeks.

Read | Section 377: Attorney General Venugopal denies to appear in Supreme Court hearing

The writ petitions were opposed by Apostolic Alliance of Churches and Utkal Christian Association and some other NGOs and individuals including Suresh Kumar Kaushal.

Section 377 refers to 'unnatural offences' and says whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to pay a fine.

First Published: Thursday, September 06, 2018 06:49 AM
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