Glaring colonial vestige buried: How foreign media covered the Section 377 verdict

10 September, 2018, 10:34 | Author: Lucy Floyd
  • Glaring colonial vestige buried: How foreign media covered the Section 377 verdict

India's Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a ban on gay sex after a decades-old campaign against a colonial-era law used to hold back LGBT rights.

"Justice Chandrachud, according to The Hindu, questioned the meaning of the phrase "order of nature" in Section 377 and said: "[The] State can not decide the boundaries between what is permissible or not.

According to a recent report of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), there are eight countries in which homosexuality can result in a death penalty, and dozens more in which homosexual acts can result in a prison sentence.

SC says that Section 377 of the IPC was used to terrorise the members of the LGBTQ community.

The five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra including Justices Fali Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra unanimously gave the verdict that decriminalized consensual sex between two consenting adults of the same sex today, after five long years of making it illegal again.

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The Supreme Court's decision prompted a long-awaited release for LGBT+ people in the country, after years of campaigning in the face of state-legislated discrimination.

A five-judge panel in India's Supreme Court was unanimous in its decision to end the law commonly known as "Section 377", that prohibits "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal" -which is widely interpreted to refer to gay sex.

The top court said the LGBTQ community possesses same human and fundamental rights as other citizens.

The petition claimed their rights to sexuality, sexual autonomy, choice of sexual partner, life, privacy, dignity and equality, along with the other fundamental rights guaranteed under Part-III of Constitution, are violated by Section 377.

"Sexual orientation is a natural phenomenon".

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"The constitution nurtures dissent as safety valve of society, we can't change history but can pass way for better future", the Supreme Court said. They further said that consensual sex between adults is not a crime.

"Constitutional morality can not be martyred at the altar of social morality", Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, reading the verdict.

But while global human rights groups are celebrating the ruling, they are also drawing attention to other former British colonies, including Bangladesh and Pakistan, that still have Section 377 as part of their penal code. "We saw that in 377 where the government told us that we are leaving this to the wisdom of the court and this "wisdom of the court" was too enticing a principle for me not to respond so I responded in my judgment the other day".

But in January this year, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge by a clutch of high-profile Indians who said the law created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in the world's largest democracy.

"We know we have a long way to go in terms of right to adoption, right to marriage but it is a very welcome beginning", Joshi said.

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