India criminalizes gay sex, again

 

In a shocking decision, India’s supreme court overturned a ruling from a lower court that decriminalized “homosexual acts.” This ruling reenacts sodomy laws that make it a crime for consenting adults to engage in ”intercourse against the order of nature.” My interpretation of this is: no sex that doesn’t involve vaginal penetration with a penis. Obviously this is extremely heteronormative; and according to NPR, the law–Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which isn’t often used for prosecution–is often used to target and harass LGBTQ people. Breaking this law is punishable by 10 years in prison.

In 2009, the Delhi High Court ruled that such laws violated the fundamental rights granted by the Indian constitution, to the dismay of various religious organizations that challenged it. It was a landmark ruling that was cited by Human Rights Watch, an international human rights organization, as “a victory for basic rights to privacy, non-discrimination, and liberty.” When the ruling was passed:

“Human Rights Watch urged India’s government not to contest or appeal the decision. Human Rights Watch also urged India’s Lok Sabha (Parliament) to move quickly to scrap Section 377 nationwide, and to replace it with laws that would provide full, gender-neutral protection for children and adults against sexual abuse and assault. Existing Indian ‘rape laws’ do not recognize anything but penile-vaginal penetration as sexual assault, which leaves many adults and children, including male children, unprotected.”

Obviously, the steps to scrap this law were not taken. Wednesday’s decisions has many gay rights activists, and other members of the LGBTQ community in India feeling let down by the their Supreme Court. One man says:

“We see this as a betrayal of the very people the court is meant to defend and protect. In our understanding, the Supreme Court has always sided with those who have no rights.”

Wednesday’s ruling also left the power to change the law in the hands of Parliament. Likely based on the response to the 2009 ruling, neither advocates nor opponents think it likely that they will act in favor of getting rid of the law.

Avatar Image Sesali is a writer and living testament to the fact that you can take the girl out of Chicago, but you can’t take Chicago out of the girl.

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