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Gay Life in India: Section 377

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Gay Life in India: Section 377
The criminalization of homosexuality in India dates back to 1860, when the country was still under British rule. The statute, officially Indian Penal Code Chapter XVI, Section 377, punished "whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal." Violations are punishable by a prison term up to 10 years and possible fines.

On July 2, 2009, the New Delhi High Court, under Justice S. Muralidhar, repealed Section 377, decriminalizing consensual sex between LGBT adults.

In June of 2008, three Indian cities, Bangaluru, Calcutta and New Delhi, held their first LGBT pride marches just days before the Naz Foundation India Trust, an activist group, presented arguments before the New Delhi High Court to repeal Section 377. The repeal of Section 377 came just days after the second pride marches in Delhi, and Bangalore.

Gay advocacy groups argued that Section 377 had been used by Indian police to discriminate against and blackmail India's LGBT citizens. "In India, gays and lesbians still live highly closeted lives," Vikram Doctor, a member of the Queer Media Collective, told The Washington Post. "There is still violence. There are still many desperate suicides by gay couples. There is still harassment. And there is still intense pressure to marry those they do not want to be with. But today we have a voice."

It is unclear what affect the reversal of Section 377 will have on India's transgender population. Times of India writes, "Even if the HC [New Delhi High Court] rules in favour of transgenders [known as hijras or eunuchs] and declares Section 377 of IPC unconstitutional, it would mean little if corresponding legal rights were not conferred on them through amendments to the Constitution, as well as personal laws, that require moving of appropriate bills in Parliament by the political class."

News and Updates:
  • A gay couple in Manipur exchanged bouquets in the region's first same-sex union.
  • 25-year-old model Karina Shalini wins first Miss India Transgender pageant.
  • View pictures from the first gay pride march in Bangaluru.
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