The government first needs to decrminalise homosexuality and then legalise it, say activists.
The Centre has a majority that it can use to decriminalise homosexuality and enable social cover for members of the LGBTQ community if it has the will, activists said on Thursday, the anniversary of the Delhi High Court's landmark 2009 order that effectively decriminalised homosexuality.
Activists and members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) community gathered at New Delhi's central Connaught Place to press their demands for the striking down of Section 377 of the Indian penal Code, which has for long been read as criminalising homosexuality.
The landmark ruling from the Delhi High Court had come on a petition filed by Naz Foudnation. However, the Supreme Court in 2013 had termed the 2009 order legally unsustainable, and had said this was a matter that had to be debated upon and legislated in Parliament.
Mohnish Malhotra, who organised the demonstration at Connaught Place, said, "The government and courts have passed the puck, and if this government wanted, with its majority, it could have passed a law striking down Section 377 without waiting for the courts to take a call."
Other activists said the confusion over the reading of Section 377 had left the LGBTQ community without any protection under the law. "The need of the hour first was to decriminalise homosexuality and then move to legalising it. You can't engage with the executive as a half citizen," said Gautam Bhan, a lawyer who has been part of the movement against Section 377 for many years.
"The government should take a stand. Too much has changed since 2009 and there is no going back," Mr Bhan added.
At the moment, the Supreme Court has allowed for a curative petition on its earlier order, which will be heard by a Constitution Bench.