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Image / Editorial

Celebrations in India as gay sex is legalised after 157 years


by Grace McGettigan
06th Sep 2018
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Today is a momentous day in Indian history as the country’s supreme court has finally decriminalised gay sex. The act of homosexual intercourse was prohibited by law 157 years ago; when colonial rulers categorised it as “an unnatural offence”. Until now, people found to have engaged in gay sex were jailed for up to 10 years. Today, the historic ban has been lifted and equality reigns supreme.

The unanimous ruling was delivered by five judges, with India’s chief justice Dipak Misra saying, “Criminalising carnal intercourse is irrational, arbitrary and manifestly unconstitutional.” He added, “The constitution is a living organic document. Pragmatic interpretation has to be given to combat rigorous inequality and injustice.”

Before making their decision, the judges heard petitions from members of the gay community. One such petitioner told Al Jazeera, “We become equal citizens with the removal of Section 377.” Meanwhile, human rights activist Peter Tatchell said, “This ruling sets free from criminalisation almost one-fifth of the world’s gay people. It is the biggest, most impactful gay law reform in human history.”

When the ruling was issued, a crowd of LGBTQ campaigners outside the courthouse reportedly broke into cheer and applause.

Celebrities from around the world have been praising the judge’s decision. English writer Stephen Fry said, “So very happy for the people of India: especially those who have felt afraid and disconnected from their country. It was a vile old British law and it’s wonderful to see it finally overturned.” While Indian actress Sonam K Ahuja said, “This is the india I want to live in. Not one filled with hate, bigotry,sexism homophobia and intolerance. THIS is the India I love.”

Today’s ruling solely legalises gay sex and does not have any impact on the illegal act of gay marriage. That has yet to be achieved; though, after today’s news, it seems more plausible than ever. To see some of the celebrations taking place in India, see the video below:

Photo: Wiki Commons