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India’s Supreme Court battle to legalize gay sex will start this week

India’s Supreme Court battle to legalize gay sex will start this week

Pride in Bangalore, India, where gay sex may soon be legal.

The Supreme Court of India has confirmed a hearing on the decriminalization of homosexual sex will start on Tuesday (10 July).

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalizes ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal’. The law applies to anal and oral, with LGBTI advocates arguing for decades it criminalizes homosexuality.

The case to overturn 377 made its way back into the Supreme Court last year during a historic ruling on privacy in the country. In August 2017, the Court ruled ‘Right to Privacy is an integral part of Right to Life and Personal Liberty.’

Campaigners believe this ruling nullifies Section 377 as it means consenting LGBT adults have a right to privacy.

#377QuitIndia

The court gave a July deadline to hear arguments about Section 377. An ongoing change of Justices forced the delay of the issue coming before the court sooner.

The new bench will consist of  Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, Justice RF Nariman , Justice A M Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra.

An official looking document that is a list of cases too be heard in the court.
The Supreme Court of India’s case list for 10 July. | Photo: Supreme Court of India

A coalition of plaintiffs brought the case to the Supreme Court in a bid to end the criminalization of consensual gay sex.

Dancer Navtej Johar, culture expert Aman Nath, restaurateurs Ritu Dalmia and Ayesha Kapur and mediaperson Sunil Mehra form the coalition.

They are challenging the Supreme Court’s 2013 judgment that criminalized homosexual sex.

Section 377 was introduced by the British to many countries in the Commonwealth during colonization.

In 2009, the High Court of Delhi repealed the law, only for the Supreme Court to overturn the decision in 2013.

‘Homosexuality is not a psychiatric disorder’

The official court date comes as the Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS) reaffirmed its position on homosexuality. The influential IPS threw its support behind decriminalizing homosexuality.

‘In the opinion of the Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS) homosexuality is not a psychiatric disorder,’ it said in a statement.

‘The I.P.S recognizes same sex sexuality as a normal variant of human sexuality much like heterosexuality and bisexuality. There is no scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be altered by any treatment and that any such attempts may in fact lead to low self-esteem and stigmatization of the person.

‘The Indian Psychiatric Society further supports decriminalization of homosexual behavior.’

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