Delhi HC legalises consensual gay sex

Delhi HC legalises consensual gay sex

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New Delhi

On Thursday, a landmark verdict was given by the Delhi High Court, basically changing a law which has been part of our system for the last 150 years, Section 377 of the IPC, to allow consensual sex between two adults of the same sex.

There were tears of joy from people in the courtroom, who said they had waited years for this freedom, as also voices of anger from those who opposed it. But once again, India's legal system has stepped in where politicians and conservatives have so often left a vacuum.

The gays no longer have to remain in the closet.

Gays, lesbians and transgenders on Thursday celebrated a watershed moment, a validation of their life and their right to dignity.

The judges quoted Jawaharlal Nehru's speech in the Constituent Assembly, in which he said equality before the law meant inclusiveness.

The order says, "Inclusiveness the underlying theme of Indian Constitution, it's a value deeply ingrained in Indian society. Those perceived by the majority as deviants or
different are not on that score excluded or ostracised. This was the spirit behind the resolution of which Nehru spoke so passionately."

Therefore, Section 377 will only apply in rape cases.

"It will be applied only in Delhi but can be cited everywhere in the country. It is a precedent," said lawyer and gay rights activist Arvind Narayan.

Sources have told NDTV that a cautious government may not contest the verdict just yet, and blame the court if protests intensify.

"Religious groups are united in their disapproval," said Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily.

Pink was perhaps the right colour to wear in the Delhi High Court on Thursday, where the judges invoked Nehru and the Indian Constitution to make gay sex legal, at least in the capital.

PTI adds: The Delhi High Court judgement legalising gay sex among consenting adults may help the government in finalising its stand on decriminalising the penal provision dealing with it but there was no indication as to what it proposes to do.

The government adopted a cautious approach and avoided any direct reply on what its next move will be following the Delhi High Court ruling.

"We need to examine the details of the judgement. Let me examine it," Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily said when asked about the government's move following Thursday's judgement.

Sources in the Union Home Ministry said that a meeting between Home Minister P Chidambaram, Moily and Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad would be convened soon during which a final decision of repealing Section 377 of IPC or going in appeal against the High Court judgement would be taken.

Chidamabarm, during his interaction with mediapersons on Wednesday evening, had said the Centre was open to bringing "new thinking" on the subject even though the conclusion was the "same".

But experts feel that the Court ruling could come as a big relief to government if it is intent on scrapping the 150-year-old provision in the IPC.

However, considering the sensitivity of the issue in view of the opposition from religious groups and others, the government may go slow or would prefer that the issue goes to the Supreme Court if some group approaches it.

Story First Published: July 02, 2009 20:52 IST

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