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India’s Supreme Court Legalizes Gay Sex | LGBT Community Celebrates

India Supreme Court legalizes gay sex

With the legalization of gay sex in India, celebration breaks out in court, as also across the nation. Now LGBT Community has same rights as of any ordinary citizen.

Gay sex is considered taboo by many in socially conservative India, as well as in neighbouring Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. It was reinstated as a criminal offense in India in 2013, punishable up to 10 years in prison, after four years of decriminalization.

A five-judge bench in India’s Supreme Court, in reference to section 377 of Indian Penal Code (IPC), was unanimous in overturning the ban. But the ruling could face a legal challenge from groups that say gay sex erodes traditional values.

“Any consensual sexual relationship between two consenting adults – homosexuals, heterosexuals or lesbians – cannot be said to be unconstitutional,” said the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, as he read out the judgment.

Activists hope the scrapping of the ban will uphold the right to equality but many acknowledged that discrimination would persist.

“We are no longer criminals, (but) it will take time to change things on the ground – 20 to 30 years, maybe,” said Saha.

2018-09-06t111217z_1671561238_rc16a4be7f90_rtrmadp_3_india-lgbtAs the fight now turns to the broader issues of acceptance and legal protections for gay couples — and potentially the issue of same-sex marriage — many in India’s LGBT community are still revelling in their victory.

Activists in Muslim-majority Bangladesh and Pakistan said they planned to push for reform of the laws that their countries also inherited from colonial Britain. “The Bangladeshi LGBT community has gained moral support,” said Shahanur Islam, executive director of the Bangladesh Institute for Human Rights. “We hope and will make sure that other countries will follow suit in overturning this remnant from colonial law,” said Mani Aq of the Pakistani branch of the Naz Foundation.

Jammu and Kashmir

The Supreme Court’s verdict was in reference to the Indian Penal Code which does not automatically get extended to the Jammy and Kashmir regions whose state is governed by its own constitution and criminal law – Ranbir Penal Code.

The state and the political elite are patriarchal, homophobic and generally insensitive towards sexual minorities, Dr Ajaz Ahmad Bund, the lone crusader for LGBT rights in Kashmir, said. “The politicians don’t even talk about the rights of women in kashmir, let alone of LGBT,” he said

He believes that Kashmir follows the global estimate for LGBT population, which is about 10%. “But they are not visible because society is in denial. The SC judgement, I am hoping, will now initiate a debate and awareness about what it means to be gay or lesbian or transgender in Kashmir,” he said.

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