Section 377 of the
Indian Penal Code which bans "sex against the order of nature" is now back in
order and today's Supreme Court verdict confirms gay sex among consenting
adults is still a criminal offence.
Angry scenes were
witnessed outside the court today while many members of the community burst
into tears when the verdict was announced. Sheer disappointment and disbelief
were written large on many faces that expected the Supreme Court to merely
affirm the 2009 Delhi High Court verdict decriminalizing gay sex. Some NGOs
working for gay rights such as Naz Foundation have announced they are going to
challenge the verdict.
In its verdict today, the Supreme Court of India
clearly stated that the law could be changed only by the Parliament after
deleting a section of the penal code that dates back to the 19th century.
Referring to the 2009 Delhi High Court decriminalizing gay sex, the highest
court in India has said that Section 377 is a valid constitutional provision
and the 2009 verdict is a clear indication that the Delhi High Court had
overstepped its powers with its ruling four years ago.
Delhi High Court's Green Signal for Gay Sex in
Delhi High court's 2009 judgment was seen as a
promising step towards lifting the "criminal" tag off the homosexual community in India
. The High court ruling in 2009
decriminalizing gay sex was hailed by gay rights activists as a welcome move in
allowing gay sex among consenting adults.
The Delhi High Court had struck down the Section
377 of Indian Penal Code on the grounds that it had violated the fundamental
right of the individual guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. The Public
Interest Litigation (PIL) before the HC was filed by the Delhi based Naz
foundation, an NGO which works among sex workers.
The case was taken to the Supreme Court when the
2009 Delhi High Court verdict was challenged by several religious organizations
including Hindus, Muslims and Christians in India saying "such acts are illegal,
immoral and against the ethos of Indian culture."
What next for Gay Rights in India?
Disappointed with today's Supreme Court verdict,
Naz foundation said the judgment will take India back to what it was 100 years
ago. Naz foundation member Anjali said, "This is a black day for us. What
does this say of us as a culture, as people? This is really very sad. It is
taking us 100 years back."
Members of the gay sex community
fear the Supreme Court reversal that makes gay sex illegal will give them into
the hands of policemen who will continue to hound them. Gay activists allege
that the law which carries a punishment of upto 10 years in jail will be used
by the police to harass members of the community. Some have even said that said
the policemen raped them if they did not pay a bribe to be released from
Today's Supreme Court verdict only shows that India
has to widely debate this sensitive issue of granting rights to members of the
gay sex community and that the Indian society has to evolve a system to deal
impartially with those outside the loop of what it considers "normally