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In a bold move Thursday, the New Delhi High Court decriminalized consensual sex between gay men by repealing Section 377 of the India's Penal Code.

India Penal Code Chapter XVI, Section 377 punished "whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal." Sex between same gender individuals was considered an act against nature. Violations were punishable by a prison term of up to 10 years and possible fines.

The issuing officiate, Justice S. Muralidhar, wrote: “This Court believes that Indian Constitution reflects this value deeply ingrained in Indian society. Those perceived by the majority as deviants or ‘different’ are not on that score excluded or ostracized. Where society can display inclusiveness and understanding, such persons can be assured of a life of dignity and nondiscrimination.”

The reversal comes just days after gay pride marches in Delhi, Kolkata, and Bangalore.

Although challenges for LGBT people in India still remain, the ruling could mark significant improvements in way queer-identified people are treated in the country.

The Huffington Post reports: "Section 377 was often used to blackmail gay couples for money or sexual favors, and posed a great hindrance to HIV/AIDS prevention initiatives, as homosexuals, who, according to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are amongst the groups most susceptible to the disease, were afraid to seek help in fear of prosecution."

After the repeal of Section 377 India's LGBT activists celebrated with tears, raised flags, and smears of vermillion, a traditional custom marking future success and prosperity.

More on gay life in India.

Image: A gay couple kiss in their home in New Delhi, India. © Getty.
Comments
July 2, 2009 at 5:39 pm
(1) Dr. Zakir Naik says:

Culture changes with time . No one can stop a culture from changing.It evolves and strengthens with time. Homosexuality is not against any culture. It is our short comings ,selfishness and hypocrisy because of which we dont look beyond our own needs and orientation. Science has proved that homosexuality is not a preference but an orientation. Homosexuality exists in animals too. Who decides what’s natural and unnatural? When what we do has been named as natural by us , we do not have any right to call what others do different as unnatural. Homosexuality is as old as the existance of man. No one can suppress the truth. It can only be delayed by resistance and non-acceptance. We need to look around and help others to be their true selves. In India most homosexuals live a dual life. They marry and have kids and live a life of lie till they die. We have such people in our family and our neighborhood. We should look beyond ourselves and help others lead a life of truth. Be a human in the true sense of the word.

July 3, 2009 at 4:52 am
(2) michaelj72 says:

it should be noted that homosex in india was only illegal since 1860 when this kind of mis-treatment and discrimination was instituted by the British colonial rulers. this is a direct outgrowth of India’s colonial past that is finally being overthrown/broken down.

The bbc reports that the Hindustan Times headlined with “It’s okay to be gay”

this is another case where the central gov’t and particularly the executive branch was far behind the culture and cultural changes taking place. much of the mainstream cosmopolitan media is praising this ruling – what a great thing!

further news here
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8131924.stm

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