Published: Fri, September 07, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

India Realizes Victorian Era Is Over, Decriminalizes Homosexuality - Hit & Run

India Realizes Victorian Era Is Over, Decriminalizes Homosexuality - Hit & Run

LGBT community members and supporters cheer the ruling in Mumbai, as the chief justice characterized the colonial-era law as a tool to harass gay and lesbian Indians. "Any violation is against freedom of speech and expression", said the Apex Court. "The court said that Section 377, which was written in the 1860s to cover what were then considered unnatural sexual acts, would still be used in cases of bestiality, for instance, but that it could not be applied any more to consensual gay sex". This is a massive progressive step forward for the second most populous country in the world, with ripple effects that could extend to other countries litigating gay rights. The five petitioners who challenged the law said it was discriminatory and led to gays living in fear of harassment and persecution.

Although the court's ruling brought about celebrations from activists and organisations working to give more rights to the Indian LGBTQ community, Nidhi Dutt, a freelance correspondent for NBC, told Euronews that in India, a ruling of this kind would likely take some time to "become a reality on the ground".

Strongly repealing Section 377, he added that "denial of self-expression is like death".

As legal experts pointed out, changing this colonial law was nearly a foregone conclusion after a nine-judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court ruled in August 2017 that privacy is a fundamental right.

Supreme Court will pronounce their verdict on Section 377 today, September 6 at 10:30 am.

"I can't even explain how I am feeling right now". A senior party member, Shashi Tharoor, said the "government has no space in bedrooms as this is a private act between consenting adults".

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"Now that we are legal, we finally feel free".

"While it's a huge step in the right direction in terms of the way modern India is looking at this issue, it may be a very long time until we really see that play out in reality and particularly in the conservative corners of India of which there are many places from north to south - and that's where it'll be really important how it has been received and what implications it will have", she said.

However, Iyer is cautious about the future. "Let's rejoice but let us also reflect", he tweeted. There could be violence as well.

The NYT reports: "The court said that gay people were now entitled to all constitutional protections under Indian law and that any discrimination based on sexuality would be illegal". The victory was short-lived, however, when the Supreme Court overturned their decision in 2013 and kicked it back to the legislature. It said that prosecution under Section 377 was significantly less and it only affected "a minuscule fraction of the country's population" comprising lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgenders.

The Congress also put out a Twitter post welcoming the judgment. "If a law is unconstitutional, it is the duty of the court to strike it down".

Petitioners before the Supreme Court argued that the controversial law was not in tandem with a 2017 ruling that guaranteed the right to privacy to people.

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