India's Supreme Court has struck down a colonial-era law criminalizing consensual gay sex, overturning more than 150 years of anti-LGBT legislation. The ruling follows almost 25 years of waffling by India's judicial system on the issue, including the striking down of the law in 2009, followed by an overturning of that decision four years later by the Supreme Court.
Consensual gay sex is not a crime, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, striking down a British era law that it said violates the right to equality and triggering celebrations among LGBTQ activists who welcomed it as a harbinger of a more inclusive India.
India's Supreme Court is expected to rule on an archaic law that criminalises gay sex. "We want the relationship to be protected under Fundamental Rights and to not suffer moral policing", he said.
As the news spread, the streets outside the courthouse erupted in cheers as opponents of the law danced and waved flags. "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", said Justice Chandrachud. 'What happens in our bedroom is left to us'.
A five-judge bench of the apex court, on Thursday, decriminalised homosexuality and stated that the 160-year-old banning it as discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which was unconstitutional.
Observing that the Constitution nurtured dissent as a "safety valve" of the society, he said "we cannot change the history but can pave a way for better future".
Section 377 had prohibited "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal" - which was widely interpreted as referring to homosexual sex.
"Finally I can appeal to the courts by showing them the Supreme Court judgement and I can be free at last", Jafar said.
"Historical judgment! So proud today!"
The decision ends a long battle to decriminalise gay sex in India, which began when the British enacted the law in 1861. This led to a fresh bunch of petitions which cited the 2017 historic judgment to read down Section 377 and decriminalize homosexuality. Transgendered people known as "hijras" have been a common sight in India for centuries. "The recognition of equal citizenship, that is the business of life, so that they know they are loved, protected".
Gay sex has always been taboo in conservative India - particularly in rural areas where homophobia is widespread. India now has openly gay celebrities, and some high-profile Bollywood films have dealt with gay issues. "Gay rights can not just be in the court room, but in the hearts and minds of the people".
The trial is expected to be called off once the Supreme Court order is mentioned before a judge hearing such a case where there were involvements of consensual adults, the official said.
Sexual orientation and gender expression form an integral part of an individual's identity the world over, and violence, stigma and discrimination based on these attributes constitute an "egregious" violation of human rights.it said.
"This will obviously open the doors for a lot of more things, more civil rights". "Now we have the legal rights".