In what could be termed as a big setback to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the country, the Supreme Court of India on Wednesday ruled that consensual sex with an adult of the same gender is an offence.
Homosexuality is illegal, rules Supreme Court. The bench comprising of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhyay set aside an earlier verdict by the Delhi High Court that legalized homosexuality. In their ruling, the apex court stated that there’s no constitutional room for enforcing any kind of change in Section 377 of the Indian Penal Court (IPC).
The apex court bench noted that the onus is on legislature to study and evaluate the desirability of deleting IPC’s Section 377, adding that today’s judgment will remain valid until the penal provision is modified or omitted altogether.
While delivering the judgment, the court also slammed the Government of India for its “casual” approach in decriminalizing homosexuality. The bench added by saying that it is a matter of concern that the Parliament is not discussing on such an important issue and instead putting the blame on the judiciary.
The verdict has so far bagged mixed responses from across the country.
Religious organizations including the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Apostolic Churches Alliance and Utkal Christian Council has welcomed the verdict. It is worth noting here that all this organizations played instrumental role in challenging the 2009 decision by the Delhi High Court that legalized homosexuality.
BP Singhal, a senior BJP leader who passed away in October 2012, had challenged the Delhi High Court verdict, arguing that consensual sex between the members of the sex is immoral, illegal and strictly against the ethos of the Indian culture.
The High Court verdict was also opposed by the Protection of Child Right, Joint Action Council, Tamil Nadu Muslim Munn Kazhgam, and many others.
Terming homosexuality, especially gay sex as a big obstacle in the fight against AIDS, the center had also informed the apex court that there are nearly 25 lakh gay people across the country of which, almost 7 per cent (1.75 lakh) are infected with the HIV virus.
“We are disappointed with the judgement. We think the judgement is not correct in law. We will take appropriate legal recourse,” senior advocate Anand Grover who was representing NGO Naz foundation on the case, stated.
Meanwhile, LGBT activists present inside the courtroom were seen shattered by this landmark judgement.
“Kya yeh crime hai ki ek bachcha lesbian ya gay paida hota hai (is it a crime that a child is born a lesbian or gay)? Yeh toh natural feeling hota hai (this is a natural feeling). Yeh kisi ka hak nahi hai ki LGBT ya gays pe dosh lagaya jai (no one has the right to blame LGBTs or gays),” the activists commented, Time of India reports.