India’s Supreme Court hears arguments against law criminalizing homosexuality

Elias Hubbard
July 11, 2018

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud refused to adjourn the matter when the Centre sought time to file its response to the petitions. On 23 April, hotelier Keshav Suri joined the five celebrities to file another plea.

Lawyers for the petitioners argued that sexual orientation and gender were not matters of choice and that orientation was an intrinsic part of individual identity. The petitions have also sought a direction for setting up of live streaming rooms within the apex court premises and granting access to legal interns.

The association further extended its support for decriminalising homosexuality. This court ignored the devastating effect the very possibility of prosecution has had on generations of Indians whose sexual orientation was criminalised and made the subject of threats, blackmail, ridicule and repression.

Referring to its December 2013 verdict that overturned the 2009 Delhi high court order that decriminalised gay sex, the apex court admitted that its decision needed to be reconsidered and referred the matter to a larger bench.

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalises homosexuality. "The law copes with life and accordingly change takes place", the apex court observed.

Subramanian Swamy, a lawmaker from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist party, said homosexuality was unnatural and against Hindu nationalism, according to video news agency ANI, a Reuters affiliate.

LGBT+ activists are hopeful that the supreme court will decriminalise gay sex following the hearing.

Today's hearing began with senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for dancer Navtej Jauhar, one of the petitioners, telling the court that the right to have sexual freedom should be examined in view of the nine-judge bench verdict on privacy which was delivered on August 24, 2017. The other plea in this case is the batch of appeals filed by the six noted personalities. She feels love can't be differentiated on the basis of sex and a law has no right to put two people apart just because they see it as an "offence".

Introduced into Indian statutes by the colonial British parliament in 1872, Section 377 penalises sexual activity "against the order of nature", criminalising thereby consensual sex between adults. The high court had stated that Section 377 was in violation of Articles 21, 14, and 15 of the Constitution. "In fact it violates the fundamental right of every Indian".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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