Section 377: Homosexuality is no longer a crime in India, Supreme Court in today's verdict
In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court today scrapped the controversial Section 377- a 158-year-old colonial law on consensual gay sex. The Supreme Court reversed its own decision and said Sectuion 377 is irrational and arbitary. "LGBT Community has same rights as of any ordinary citizen. Respect for individual choice is the essence of liberty; LGBT community possesses equal rights under the constitution. Criminalising gay sex is irrational and indefensible," said Chief Justice Dipak Misra, who headed the five judge bench hearing the case.
The judgment was delivered by a Bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices Rohinton Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.
CJI Misra and Justices Nariman, Chandrachud and Malhotra delivered separate, concurring judgments.
The Supreme Court began hearing petitions against the ban in July, beginning an emotional debate over the right to freedom and privacy. While hearing the case, the judges have made observations that have largely given hope to the gay community.
Section 377 refers to 'unnatural offences' and says whoever voluntarily has "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal", shall be punished by up to 10 years in jail under the 1861 law. Although prosecution under Section 377 is not common, gay activists say the police use the law to harass and intimidate members of their community.
Here are the LIVE updates on Section 377:
Gujarat 'gay prince' hails Supreme Court verdict, calls it 'true independence'
The scion of the erstwhile princely Rajpipla state, Manvendrasinh Gohil, on Thursday said the Supreme Court order decriminalising a part of IPC section 377, related to consensual unnatural sex, had given him "true independence" 71 years after the country attained freedom.
Mr Gohil had made his sexual orientation public some years ago and has been working for the betterment of the LGBTQ community through his Lakshya Trust, earning the sobriquet "gay prince" from a large number of admirers.
"After 71 years of Independence, this verdict has set us free. This is really a day of true independence for me and the members of my community," Mr Gohil told reporters in Vadodara, about 115 kilometres from here.
Devdutt Pattanaik hails Supreme Court verdict, cautions against "loveless marriages"
Noted mythologist-writer Devdutt Pattanaik has hailed the landmark Supreme Court verdict on Thursday that decriminalised homosexuality between consenting adults and hoped that the judgement will be the beginning of a larger change.
"I think this is a wonderful moment in Indian history. India has finally acknowledged that it is okay to be different. It is an opportunity for us to open ourselves to our friends who are queer and have genuine conversations about feelings that we generally don't talk of," said Mr Pattanaik, who is known for his interpretations of ancient Indian scriptures.
Logic and love have won, says 'Mr Gay World 2018' finalist
Hailing the Supreme Court verdict on decriminalising homosexuality, Samarpan Maiti, the second runner-up of Mr Gay World 2018, said on Thursday that it is like getting "released from a dark jail," as he felt sensitising the society would now be the key. The apex court has ruled that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that criminalized gay sex between consenting adults is "manifestly arbitrary". "I felt like being released from a dark jail. But our work starts from today: to sensitize the society, fight for marriage equality, right to adopt children and so other things," Maiti said. "Logic and love have won," he said.
Terming it as a "historical judgment", the fashion industry lauded the Supreme Court's verdict that decriminalised Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Giving the verdict a thumbs up, ace designer Rohit Bal wrote how the judgment heralds a new dawn for personal liberty and is a major victory for the LGBTQ community that has been fighting this battle for freedom.
Manish Malhotra wrote, "Love Conquers All #section377 #love #equality #pride #india"
Tarun Tahiliani took to his Instagram story to share a picture in support, lauding the 'monumental' decision.
Verdict gives hope to those fighting for justice: Amnesty
Hailing the Supreme Court judgment decriminalising consensual gay sex, Amnesty International India Thursday said the verdict gave hope to everyone fighting for justice and equality. "The judgment closes the door on a dark chapter of Indian history. It marks a new era of equality for millions of people in India," said Asmita Basu, Programmes Director, Amnesty International India.
Top LGBTQ activists in Mumbai on Thursday welcomed the Supreme Court verdict decriminalising gay sex amidst caution that "the real work will begin now". Leading activist and gay rights campaigner Ashok Row Kavi said the "apex court verdict is very sensitive" to the rights of the LGBTQ while protecting minors and animals.
The UNAIDS (United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) on Thursday welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court of India to annul key provisions of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. The world agency expressed hope that this decision sets the trend and is followed in other countries to remove unjust laws criminalising homosexuality.
Supreme Court verdict on Section 377 is momentous: Congress
The Congress on Thursday hailed as "momentous" the Supreme Court verdict decriminalising consensual gay sex and termed it as an important step forward towards a liberal and tolerant society. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the age-old colonial law was an anachronism in today's modern times and the verdict restores the fundamental rights and negates discrimination based on sexual orientation.
"Supreme Court verdict on Section 377 is momentous.
"An age-old colonial law, that was an anachronism in today's modern times, ends restoring the fundamental rights and negating discrimination based on sexual orientation. It's an important step forward towards a liberal, tolerant society," he said on Twitter.
"I'm pleased to welcome SC decision to decriminalise consensual acts of adults in private. In this country we've allowed govt to interfere in private lives of ppl to discriminate against ppl on basis of sexual orientation,but SC stood up for equal treatment of citizens," Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said.
UN welcomes SC verdict
The United Nations welcomed the supreme court order. "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," the world body said in a statement.
"It is not only about decriminalising but recognising our fundamental rights," Akhilesh Godi, one of the petitioners in the case, told news agency Reuters shortly before the judgement was announced.
"Thanks to all that fought for this, braving the worst sort of prejudice. This is a good day for human rights," Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director for Human Rights Watch said on Twitter.
Gay rights activists celebrate outside the Supreme Court.
Senior advocate Arvind Datar on 377 verdict
- It is a land mark judgement
- Now sex between two consenting adults of the same sex is not a crime
- LGBT community who have been living under fear of prosecution can now live without fear and stigma
- Justice Indu Malhotra opinion is touchy as she said history owes an apology
Under the 1861 law, gay sex was punishable by up to 10 years in jail. Although prosecution under Section 377 is not common, gay activists said the police used the law to harass and intimidate members of their community.
"History owes an apology to LGBT persons for ostracisation, discrimination," said Justice Indu Malhotra.
"Historical judgment! So proud today! Decriminalising homosexuality & abolishing Section 377 is a huge thumbs up for humanity & equal rights! The country gets its oxygen back!" says Karan Johar
Homosexuality not a mental disorder: Top quotes
- Sustenance of identity is the pyramid of life
- Section 377 is arbitrary. LGBT community posses rights like others. Majoritarian views and popular morality cannot dictate constitutional rights
- No one can escape from their individualism. Society is now better for individualism. In the present case, our deliberations will be on various spectrums
- To deny LGBT community of their right to sexual orientation is a denial of their citizenship and a violation of their privacy
- Autonomy of an individual is important. He or she can not surrender it to anyone
- Homosexuality is not a mental disorder
What Supreme Court said on Section 377
- Primary objective of having a Constitutional society is to transform the society progressively; Constitutional provisions should not be interpreted in literal sense.
- Sexual orientation of an individual is natural and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a violation of Freedom of Expression.
- LGBT Community has same rights as of any ordinary citizen. Respect for each others rights, and others are supreme humanity. Criminalising gay sex is irrational and indefensible.
- The provision of IPC had resulted in collateral effect in that consensual sex between LGBT person is criminalised and is violative of Article 14.
Chief Justice Misra is reading out the judgment. All the justices have consensus over Section 377
5 Petitioners Who Challenged Criminalizing Section 377, Gay Rights: Take A Look
The Supreme Court today will decide on whether homosexuality is a crime in India. The top court will pronounce its verdict on petitions challenging the colonial-era Section 377 that criminalises consensual gay sex. In 2013, the Supreme Court had cancelled a Delhi high court order that had decriminalized homosexuality, by overturning the outdated law, saying it was up to parliament to take a call on scrapping laws. Five celebrities, in 2016, petitioned the Supreme Court to reconsider its own ruling."
The verdict is likely to be pronounced at 11:30 am.
India's first gay marriage took place in 2017
Hrishi Mohankumar Sathawane, 40, married his partner Vinh, who is from Vietnam, in a traditional ceremony organised at a local hotel on December 30.
Mr Sathawane is a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, and lives in California.
Here's the timeline of the Section 377 case:
2001: Naz Foundation files petition
Naz Foundation, an NGO that work on HIV/AIDS and sexual health issues, files a petition in the Delhi high court against Section 377.
2009: Delhi High Court on Section 377
In 2009, the Delhi High Court described Section 377 as a violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution. Religious groups, however, had appealed against the decision in the Supreme Court.
2013: Supreme Court Re-ciminalises Gay Sex
That Delhi High Court judgement was overturned by the Supreme Court in December 2013. It said that amending or repealing Section 377 should be a matter left to Parliament, not the judiciary.
2016: Curative petition by Naz Foundation, activists heard
In February 2016, the three-member bench headed by then the Chief Justice of India TS Thakur said that all the curative plea of NGO Naz Foundation and some gay rights activists will be reviewed afresh by a five-member constitutional bench.
2017: Supreme Court Upholds Right To Privacy
In August 2017, the Supreme Court held Right to Privacy as a fundamental right. Sexual orientation, the court said, is an "essential component of identity" and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population are "real rights founded on sound constitutional doctrine".
2018: Supreme Court Hears Petitions on Section 377
In July, the Supreme Court reconsiders its 2013 decision and begins hearing petitions challenging Section 377. In one of the hearings, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra indicated that the 150-year-old ban on gay sex may soon be gone. "We intend to rule, subject to arguments, that two consenting adults even if engaged in 'unnatural sex' will not be liable for prosecution for any offence," Chief Justice Misra had said.
The Supreme Court had in 2013 cancelled the high court order. The top court said it was the job of parliament to decide on scrapping laws.
In 2009, the Delhi High Court had described Section 377 as a violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
The Supreme Court had in 2013 cancelled a Delhi high court order that had decriminalized homosexuality by overturning the outdated law and said it was the job of parliament to decide on scrapping laws.
The petitioners argue that Section 377 violates rights principles enshrined in the constitution, like equality before law, no discrimination based on religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth and freedom of speech and expression.
The ban on gay sex has been challenged by five high-profile petitioners who say they are living in fear of being punished. The petitioners are, Bharatnatyam dancer Navtej Singh Johar, journalist Sunil Mehra, restaurateur Ritu Dalmia, Neemrana hotel chain co-founder Aman Nath and businesswoman Ayesha Kapur.
The Supreme Court had in 2013 restored Section 377. The controversial British-era ban on consensual gay sex bans "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal".