India is facing the prospect of legalizing gay sex in a matter of days and the movement has been bolstered after an influential Muslim group said it would not stand in the way of decriminalization.
TheAll India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) declared it would not oppose scrapping Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. Section 377 criminalizes ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’ including gay sex.
India’s Supreme Court is currently considering a petition to get rid of Section 377. A decision on the matter is likely to happen soon.
Momentum is gathering for the removal of the law after the Indian government said it would not oppose the court’s decision if it ruled in favor of scrapping Section 377.
Now, the Muslim Law Board has said it would also not stand in the way of changing the laws. The board represents most Muslim sect in India and features many prominent Muslim Indians.
‘We left the matter to the Supreme Court. We will not participate in the 377 proceedings,’ AIMPLB member Yusuf Hatim Muchhala told NDTV.
This declaration is important because it had previously opposed scrapping Section 377 in the Delhi High Court and Supreme Court.
Even though the Board won’t appeal the court’s decision it has implored it to rule against overturning Section 377, because homosexuality is still a crime in Islamic law.
‘(The) AIMPLB appeals the government to take a firm stance in the court against homosexuality. It’s a sin in all religions and should be declared a crime. A neutral stance by the government is against religions, traditions and ethics of this country,’ it wrote on Twitter.
Section 377 of India’s penal code dates back to 1861, when the country was under British rule. Those convicted under the law face up to ten years in prison.
Campaigners were jubilant when the High Court of Delhi repealed the law with regard to consenting adults in 2009. But in 2013, two members of the Supreme Court of India overturned that judgment.
Section 377 was cited in the arrest of 600 people in 2014 and over 1,400 in 2015. It has also made it more difficult to promote HIV awareness.