It is a historic day in India as, the Supreme Court of India has decriminalized section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), as per which homosexuality is a punishable offense. The five-judge constitutional bench was unanimous in its decision.
‘Indian supreme court has lifted the ban on consensual gay sex today. The controversial British-era ban on consensual gay sex law made in the 18th century has been decriminalized.’
Previously according to the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) Gay sex was punishable by law, the people could be jailed for up to 10 years under the 1861 law.
"Homosexuality is not a mental disorder, which has been also recognized by Parliament. Centre must give wide periodic publicity to the SC judgment to eliminate the stigma attached to LGBT community," said Justice RF Nariman.
The medical community has always considered homosexuality as a normal and natural phenomenon and not a disease or crime.
It becomes important now for a medical doctor to know if the person is an LGBT. Till now, many of them were not coming forward and disclosing their orientation.
The job of a doctor or the judiciary is to change with the changing times and broaden, delete or re-interpret the laws as per the changing needs of the society.
It is heartening to note that the Court is now coming to the rescue of people, which will help reduce the mental and social disorders in the society.
The decision was taken after five high-profile petitioners challenged the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The petitioners were Bharatnatyam dancer Navtej Singh Johar, journalist Sunil Mehra, restaurateur Ritu Dalmia, Neemrana hotel chain co-founder Aman Nath, and businesswoman Ayesha Kapur also explained that they used to live in fear of being punished.
Following are some key observations of the Supreme Court.
Chief Justice Dipak Misra: "Sustenance of identity is the pyramid of life. Right to privacy as part of right to life applies fully to LGBT community. Suresh Koushal judgment of SC in 2013 is retrograde."
Justice Indu Malhotra: "History owes an apology to members of LGBT community and their families for ostracisation and persecution they faced because of society's ignorance that homosexuality is a natural trait; its penal suppression infringes a host of fundamental rights."
Justice Chandrachud: "State has no business to get into controlling the private lives of LGBT community members or for that matter, any citizen... Decriminalising gay sex is only the first step to bury the Colonial Ghost, adding that time has come to move forward and give the LGBT community the other constitutional rights... Denial of right to sexual orientation is akin to denial of right to privacy."