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#Section377: Homosexuality is not an offence in India, not anymore!

New Delhi: Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gender (LGBT) community during a Delhi Queen Pride 2015, in New Delhi on Sunday. PTI Photo by Shahbaz Khan(PTI11_29_2015_000136a)

“Section 377 is irrational, arbitrary Homosexuality is not an offence in India…” Said Supreme Court, while announcing the verdict on section 377 of Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The Supreme Court reversed its own 2013 decision and said Section 377.

Five judges of the Supreme Court aid that we have to move away from prejudices. Its one India and equal love should be given for all. It’s a landmark judgement in favour of Gay rights movement in India.

So what this section 377 of IPC is anyway?

Section 377 was introduced during British Raj (oh yes, it’s that old!). Section 377 of IPC came into effect as early as 1861 according to which sexual activities against the order of nature, including the homosexual were criminalized.

In simple words it means that whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

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In July 2009, section 377 was read down with respect to sex between consenting adults by the Delhi High Court but this landmark judgement was overturned by the Supreme Court of India (SC) on 11 December 2013 and said that the amending or repealing section 377 should be Parliament’s job rather than the judiciary. The Naz Foundation and others filed petition which came for final hearing on 6 February 2016. In response to the petition three-member bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India T. S. Thakur decided that a five-member constitutional bench would review the petitions.

On 24 August 2017, a landmark judgment (the Puttuswamy judgement) was issued by the Supreme Court which upheld the Right to Privacy as a fundamental right under the Constitution of India. The SC also had called for equality and condemned discrimination, stated that the protection of sexual orientation lies at the core of the fundamental rights and that the rights of the LGBT population are real and founded on constitutional doctrine. The Puttuswamy judgement has implication that under section 377 consensual sexual acts in private can no longer be overseen by law and hence might not be criminalised.

Ever since Supreme Court has started looking into section 377, there has been an unending debate on homosexuality, LGBT, Gay Rights, Right to Privacy etc. in India.

Some are in favour of section 377 and some are against it. The home minister of India Mr Rajnath singh has clarified his stand that his party is in favour of 377 as homosexuality/unnatural sex must not be supported. Mr Yogi Adityanath, CM of Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh, Ram Gopal Yadav and Bab Ramdev has same point of view as Mr Rajnath Singh. However, Finance Minister Mr Arun Jaitly has different point of view which seem to be affected by the scenario in other developed nations. He is not against section 377.

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