India Supreme Court ends colonial-era ban on gay sex

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In a unanimous verdict, the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court struck down Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code. "Any violation is against freedom of speech and expression", the court said.

"History owes an apology to the members of this community and their families, for the delay in providing redressal for the ignominy and ostracism that they have suffered through the centuries", added the ruling.

In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court on Thursday partially scrapped the Section 377, a 158-year-old colonial law on consensual gay sex.

A participant stands behind a rainbow flag during a gay pride parade promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, in Chennai, India June 24, 2018.

There were four separate judgments by CJI Misra, Justices Chandrachud, Nariman, and Malhotra.

The primary objective of having a constitutional society is to transform the society progressively; Constitutional provisions should not be interpreted in the literal sense. The LGBT Community has the same rights as of any ordinary citizen.

Other legal issues like, property rights, being disallowed from adopting and using surrogacy as a means to have a child, are all issues that will continue to exist even without Section 377.

Participants carried placards with messages like "Raise Boys and Girls the same way", "New Day for a New life with a new hope", "Protect Gay Teens" written on them.

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Privacy of human beings constitutes the cardinal rule of our constitution.

Emphasising on individual recognition, he said that "identity is pivotal to one's name".

"Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with 1 [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". Besides decriminalising homosexuality, the judgment does not confer any further rights.

However, in August a year ago, the court had indicated its stand on the subject through its landmark judgment on the right to privacy. "No one has the right to question how do two adults perform the sexual intercourse and whether this intercourse is natural or unnatural", the court had said.

"Based on how the proceedings have gone, we do not see how they can uphold (the ban)".

The judges in the case had previously said that gay people in India faced deep-rooted trauma and live in fear. We will be together.

READ | What is Section 377? "This is the first battle that has been won and there are many more battles that we are going to fight", he said. This step today will be responsible for birthing any and every future change in this regard, this step will propel us in the right direction of change for the future, that will lead us to a future that holds acceptance, justice, respect, and equality for all, and not one that is built on the flimsy pillars of heteronormativity, conformity, morality, dated beliefs. And we will be equal.

He also ruled: "Above all, all government officials, including and in particular police officials, and other officers of the Union of India and the states, be given periodic sensitisation and awareness training of the plight of such persons in the light of the observations contained in this judgment".

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