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India's Top Court Decriminalizes Gay Sex In Landmark Ruling

In a historic decision, India’s Supreme Court has ruled that gay sex is no longer a criminal offence…
 
India’s Supreme Court has struck down a colonial-era law criminalizing consensual gay sex. The historic decision overturns more than 150 years of anti-LGBT legislation in the country.
 
The court announced the landmark verdict in Delhi on Thursday, as crowds cheered and rights activists hugged one another, overcome with emotion.
 
The decision was delivered by a five-judge bench headed by India’s outgoing chief justice Dipak Misra and was unanimous. Reading out the judgement, he said: “Criminalising carnal intercourse is irrational, arbitrary and manifestly unconstitutional.”
 
Another judge, Indu Malhotra, said she believed “history owes an apology” to LGBT people for ostracising them.
 
Justice DY Chandrachud said the state had no right to control the private lives of LGBT community members and that the denial of the right to sexual orientation was the same as denying the right to privacy.
 
Overturning Section 377
 
The ruling overturns a 2013 judgement that upheld a colonial-era law, known as section 377. The archaic law was imposed during British rule and categorized gay sex as an “unnatural offence” which was “against the order of nature.” It carried a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
 
Though the law was rarely enforced in full, lawyers argued that it helped perpetuate a culture of fear and repression within the LGBT community.
 
The decision to repeal the law is a major victory for India’s LGBT activists and supporters after years of determined struggle.
 
A change in legislation will “create a space of freedom where you can start expecting justice,” Danish Sheikh, a law professor at Jindal Global Law School and LGBT advocate, told CNN.
 

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