India Reinstates Gay Sex Ban

12.11.2013

By Alex Panisch

The Indian Supreme Court has upheld the 153-year-old colonial law

Sad news from the world’s largest democracy. The Indian Supreme Court has upheld Section 377, a colonial law which defines a homosexual relationship as an “unnatural offense” that is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. This reverses a 2009 Delhi High Court order which decriminalized homosexuality. “It is up to parliament to legislate on this issue,” said Justice GS Singhvi in today’s ruling, his last before retiring.

Though this is a massive blow to gay rights and global equality, it is doubtful that it will lead to the prosecution of any gay man or woman. The BBC points out “although the law has rarely - if ever - been used to prosecute anyone for consensual sex, it has often been used by the police to harass homosexuals.”

Kapli Sibal, India’s Law Minister, told the press that the government would respect the ruling, but did not say if there were any plans to change the law. This is unlikely as general elections in the deeply conservative country are coming next year.

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