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Landmark Ruling: India’s Top Court Decriminalizes Gay Sex Acts

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India’s Supreme Court overturned a colonial-era law that has criminalized gay sex for more than 150 years.

The Supreme Court decriminalized part of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that has been imposed since British rule, which penalized intercourse “against the order of nature” with a sentence to life in prison. 

This is a massive step forward.

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.

Other rights activists shared their sentiments.

“It’s an emotional day for me. It’s a mix of feelings, it’s been a long fight,” rights campaigner Rituparna Borah told CNN. “There was not enough media or society support earlier but we have it now. People will not be seen as criminals anymore.”

As CNN reported, Section 377 was rarely enforced in full. In fact, it was struck down by the Delhi High Court in 2009 because it breached rights to equality. But was then overturned in 2013 by the Supreme Court, stating that because Section 377 was rarely imposed, it only affected a “miniscule fraction” of the population and therefore couldn’t violate Indians’ constitutional rights. So this is a huge victory for LGBTQ people because, as CNN mentioned, this won’t perpetuate fear and repression within the LGBTQ community.

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