Scrap ‘archaic’ gay sex laws, rights watchdogs tell India

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have urged the Indian government to review legislation criminalizing same-sex relations

Scrap ‘archaic’ gay sex laws, rights watchdogs tell India
12 February 2013

Two of the world’s leading human rights watchdogs have demanded India scraps its ‘archaic and discriminatory’ laws against gay sex today (12 February).

Amnesty International and Humans Rights Watch today urged the Indian government to repeal laws including section 377 of the penal code which criminalizes same-sex relations.

Indian president Pranab Mukherjee signed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 on 3 February, reforming many of India’s old colonial-era laws on sexual violence, but did not repeal section 377.

This is despite the Delhi High Court ruling in 2009 that criminalizing same-sex relations among adults was ‘a violation of their constitutionally guaranteed rights to equality, non-discrimination, and the right to life with dignity and privacy.’

Speaking to Gay Star News, Amnesty spokesperson Niall Couper said: ‘It’s incredibly disappointing the authorities in India have not taken this opportunity to reform sction 377 of the penal code.

‘This law is archaic and discriminatory. It is high time it was confined to the history books for India. The ordinance proposed fails to address a myriad of problems in the Indian legal system which fly in the face of international human rights law.’

Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have also urged the Indian government to review other parts of the ordinance to reflect international human rights laws and standards.

These include suggestions to repeal the death penalty for serious cases of sexual assault, and remove protection for police and armed forces in cases of sexual violence.

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