Homosexuality is considered a taboo in many parts of conservative Indian society. There are a lot of people who see homosexuality as a crime and a disease which can be treated. Our society is still divided on this controversial issue. Many people want homosexuality de-criminalised but many still consider it a “deviant behaviour” and not merely a question of one’s sexual orientation or preference.
There has been a huge uproar throughout the country with people supporting the striking down of section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, IPC.
Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code is a law that was introduced during the British era in 1860s and makes gay sex a crime for which the punishment can be a life term.
When people talk about section 377 of the IPC, they generally think it just criminalises homosexuality (sexual attraction to the people belonging to the same sex) and violates the rights of gay people.
But it can be divided into the following three parts for easier understanding-
- Criminalises homosexuality.
- The law criminalises certain acts between heterosexuals.
- Criminalises sexual activities between humans and animals
Because of criminalisation and the ensuing stigma against homosexuality, those belonging to LGBTQ are often denied professional opportunities and face workplace discrimination.
Section 377 of IPC — which came into force in 1862 — defines unnatural offences. It says, “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
In 2009, the Delhi High Court had described Section 377 as a violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution. Religious groups, however, had appealed against the decision in the Supreme Court.
Delhi HC legalises homosexuality
The Delhi High Court had in July 2009 de-criminalised consensual homosexual acts in private by declaring as unconstitutional a part of Section 377 of IPC that criminalises unnatural sex, saying “the section denies a gay person a right to full personhood…”
In 2013, the Supreme Court re-criminalised homosexuality.
After the 2013 Supreme Court’s decision, prominent BJP leader Rajnath Singh had said, “We support Section 377 because we believe that homosexuality is an unnatural act and cannot be supported.” On the contrary, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley had said, “When millions of people the world over are having alternative sexual preferences, it is too late in the day to propound the view that they should be jailed.”
In February 2016, a curative petition was submitted by Naz Foundation.
The Chief Justice of India, T.S. Thakur decided that the petitions will be reviewed again by a constitutional bench consisting of five members as it was decided that homosexuality is a subject that should be left to be decided by the legislature.
Naz Foundation vs Govt. of NCT of Delhi, the issue before the two-judge bench of the Delhi High Court was whether Section 377 of the Constitution violates the fundamental rights of the LGBT community and if so, should it be struck down as unconstitutional? And should homosexual acts between consenting adults be legalised?
Section 377: Supreme Court begin hearing pleas on homosexuality from today
A newly re-constituted five-judge Constitution bench began hearing the petitions challenging criminalisation of homsexual sex between two consenting adults.
The new five-judge bench will be headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and comprise Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.
The court will hear six petitions and interventions filed by NGO Naz Foundation, parents of queer people and Voices Against 377.
Sources- NDTV, News18, TOI, FirstPost, HT, IndiaTV
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