IITians Go To Top Court, Demand Law Criminalising Gay Sex Be Scrapped

Twenty students and alumni from IIT have approached the Supreme Court asking that homosexuality be decriminalised. They are part of Pravitti - an informal group of LGBTs in IITS across the country.

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New Delhi:  A group of present and former students of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology have added their voice to calls for scrapping a British-era law that makes homosexuality a crime. The group has approached the Supreme Court with a petition - a move that could add weight to the protests against the controversial Section 377.

The IITians had approached the court on behalf of a 350-plus group called Pravitti - an informal group of LGBTs which includes alumni, staff, students and faculty from IITS across the country.

"It is more of a fact of acknowledging the identity of LGBT citizens and correcting the wrongs that they have been denied their fundamental right under the constitution," said Keerthana Gopalakrishnan, a petitioner and former IITian who now resides in the US.

In their petition, the IITians said despite their young age, they were suffering because of the decision to continue with the law that provides for a life term in jail in cases of unnatural sex.

The petitioners, most of whom are below 30, said they had experienced suicidal tendencies and depression. Some of them have even attempted suicide, the petition said. The youngest petitioner is 19 years old. There are two women and one transsexual woman.

"Our situation resonates with the rest of the LGBT community and students across campuses... the instances cited in the petition are common to many," said Balachandran Ramaiah, one of the petitioners.

Section 377 was last upheld by the Supreme Court in 2013. But in January, a bench of the top court said it will re-examine the verdict and the matter was referred to a larger bench.

In its order, the bench, comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, said individuals who exercise their choice should never "remain in a state of fear".
Social morality, the bench said, changes from age to age and "what is natural to one may not be natural to the other".

The court said "choice can't be allowed to cross the boundaries of law" but pointed out that the law can't "trample or curtail" the constitutional right to life and liberty.


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