India decriminalises homosexuality in landmark ruling
Section 377 has been struck down by the Indian supreme court
India has ruled that gay sex is no longer a criminal offence, overturning a 2013 ruling that upheld Section 377 - a 157-year-old law dating back to the colonial era.
Previously, homosexuality was classed as an "unnatural offence" and was punishable by a ten-year jail term.
"Criminalising carnal intercourse is irrational, arbitrary and manifestly unconstitutional," Chief Justice Dipak Misra said while reading his verdict, which sparked mass scenes of celebration by campaigners outside the courtroom in Delhi.
There has been a struggle to overturn the law for some time, with the Delhi high court originally striking down Section 377 in 2009 after finding that its ban on “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” breached the rights to life, liberty and equality in India's constitution.
It was then overturned by the Indian Supreme Court four years later in 2013, after several political, social and religious groups petitioned for its restoration and the court ruled that because the law had been used so infrequently (less than 200 cases according to the judgement), and affected such a small proportion of the Indian population that it could not be said to violate the country's constitutional rights.
Lawyers and activists had worked steadily since the controversial ruling to overturn what many saw as a fundamental breach of human rights and finally had a breakthrough in 2017 after the fundamental right to privacy ruling in the supreme court.
As part of that judgement, five judges found the decision taken in 2013 to be wrong, leading to Thursday's historic verdict.
Indu Malhotra, another judge during the case, said she believed "history owes an apology" to the LGBT community.
Till yesterday, India was at -1 regarding LGBTQ+ rights.
Today, we are at 0.
Let's hope, sometime in the near future, we score a +1.#Section377
— meghnad 🔗 (@Memeghnad) September 6, 2018
Homosexuality has been decriminalised in India, and the significance of this cannot be understated. Today one fifth of the world's population has been (rightfully) told that consensual, gay sex is not a crime. Huge. #Section377
— Matthew Wade (@MatthewRWade) September 6, 2018
यतो धर्मस्ततो जयः - Where there is Dharma, there is Victory. Inscription under the Supreme Court emblem.
THANK YOU, Supreme Court. #Section377
— Anand Ranganathan (@ARanganathan72) September 6, 2018
India is a country where the culture changes every 100km. Accepting diversity has to be the core value of every Indian and frankly is the only way India will survive and thrive. Scrapping #Section377 is a step in that direction. It is a good day for India.
— Chetan Bhagat (@chetan_bhagat) September 6, 2018