India’s top court has struck down a colonial-era law that makes homosexual acts punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
The court gave its ruling on Thursday on a petition filed by five people who challenged the law, saying they are living in fear of being harassed and prosecuted by police.
In 2009, a New Delhi High Court declared unconstitutional Section 377 of the law, which says intercourse between members of the same sex is against the order of nature.
But the judgment was overturned by the Supreme Court, which says amending or repealing the law should be left to Parliament.
— Youth Congress (@IYC) September 6, 2018
On gay rights, India is currently in the company of Iran, Sudan and Saudi Arabia. After the Supreme Court rules today it could find itself closer to the US, UK and Canada. [Reupping oped from 2015.] #Section377 https://t.co/PNXxI4CH3r
— Sadanand Dhume (@dhume) September 6, 2018
But the government left it to the court to decide the validity of the law dealing with consensual sexual acts between two adults.
Justice Indu Malhotra, who was one of the five judges making the historic decision, said she concurred with the other judges.
“History owes an apology to this community. Members of this community were compelled to live a life of fear. This was due to the ignorance of the majority. They’ve been denied fundamental right under article 14, 15 and 21. LGBTQ persons deserve to live a life unshackled.”
#IndiaForGayRights | Think it's time for the Indian society to be mature enough to move forward & set aside the so-called morals that were set in Victorian times. I've no doubt that Delhi HC's judgment was correct: Mukul Rohatgi, Fmr A-G who appeared for petitioners in the case pic.twitter.com/j7FsuPyXCf
— Republic (@republic) September 6, 2018
She echoed the earlier sentiments of Justice Dhananjaya Chandrachud.
“What is natural and what is unnatural and who decides this? There must come a time when constitutional guarantees of inclusion and equality overtake discrimination – that time is now,” Justice Chandrachud said.
“Homosexuals need to be made comfortable for who they are – counsellors need to do this. Human sexuality cannot be defined narrowly. Members of the LGBTQ have rights to be protected.”