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Indian Government says it will fight to decriminalize gay sex

Indian Government says it will fight to decriminalize gay sex

The Indian Government has indicated that it will move to re-decriminalize homosexuality despite Indians going to the polls in five months for general elections.

Congress party president Sonia Gandhi spoke out Thursday against the Supreme Court ruling that reinstated the country’s colonial era Section 377 buggery law the day before – and several other prominent voices within the party have now joined her.

‘The [Delhi] High Court had wisely removed an archaic, repressive and unjust law that infringed on the basic human rights enshrined in our Constitution,’ Gandhi said of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a 2009 Delhi High Court verdict that struck down the law.

‘I hope Parliament will address this issue and uphold the constitutional guarantee of life and liberty to all citizens of India, including those directly affected by this judgment.’

Finance Minister P Chidambaram echoed Gandhi’s concern.

‘To say in this day and age that LGBT rights should not be recognized is extremely regressive and extremely disappointing,’ Chidambaram told reporters, according to Reuters.

Chidambaram called on the Ministry of Home Affairs to write to police stations across the nation asking them to not enforce the law in cases of consensual adult gay sex.

India’s Law Minister Kapil Sibal said the government needed to ‘take quick and firm action,’ to reverse the court’s decision.

India’s Delhi state Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party has also called for lawmakers to press for reform on the issue – though it is yet to win a seat in the national parliament.

‘The Supreme Court judgment … criminalizes the personal behavior of consenting adults,’ the party said in a statement.

‘All those who are born with or choose a different sexual orientation would thus be placed at the mercy of the police. This not only violates the human rights of such individuals, but goes against the liberal values of our Constitution, and the spirit of our times.

‘Aam Aadami Party hopes and expects that the Supreme Court will review this judgment and that the Parliament will also step in to repeal this archaic law.’

The government’s options include appealing the case to a five judge of the Supreme Court or passing legislation to repeal Section 377 which could itself be challenged in court.

One of the two Supreme Court justices that heard the case retired this week after ruling in favor of the constitutionality of Section 377.

The opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has not yet made its stance clear but is likely to oppose reform.

The government’s decision to fight the reinstatement of Section 377 follows United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay calling out the Indian Supreme Court for ignoring the country’s international commitments to human rights through its ruling.

‘Criminalizing private, consensual same-sex sexual conduct violates the rights to privacy and to non-discrimination enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which India has ratified,’ Pillay said yesterday.