Mumbai celebrates three years of legal gay sex in India

On Monday, Mumbai’s LGBT community celebrates Delhi High Court’s 2009 ruling, but a question mark still hangs over the appeal in the Supreme Court

Mumbai celebrates three years of legal gay sex in India
29 June 2012

LGBT rights activists in Mumbai are planning a celebration on Monday (2 July) to commemorate three years since the decriminalization of homosexuality in India.

The organizers of Queer Azaadi Mumbai (the city’s Pride celebration) are inviting the community to display rainbow flags, wear pride accessories or ‘just pray to mother nature for a rainbow in the sky’.

The event on Monday at The Humsafar Trust’s drop-in center will honor the court’s decision with a slide show of photographs from Mumbai’s Pride march from 2009 to 2012, a screening of the documentary 365 Without 377 (see below), a dance performance and an open mic on the subject ‘raise your rainbow’.

The decision by Delhi High Court in 2009 revoked Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which was established by the British colonial government in 1862.

Section 377 criminalized ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’ and was interpreted to mean all forms of sex apart from heterosexual penile-vaginal.

Although nobody had been prosecuted under section 377 for twenty years, NGOs such as Human Rights Watch testified in court that the law was used to harass and arrest gay people, sex workers and HIV prevention workers.

Early this year the High Court’s decision was challenged in Delhi Supreme Court. Government lawyer PP Malhotra testified that gay sex is ‘highly immoral and against societal order’ – but the government later retracted the statement.

After a month and a half of hearing from witnesses supporting and opposing the decriminalization of gay sex, the Supreme Court judges criticized the government for its ‘casual’ approach and announced on 28 March 2012 that it would reserve its verdict. To date there has been no further announcement on that verdict.

Watch the trailer for the documentary 365 Without 377 here:

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