The Supreme Court has pronounced the final verdict pleas challenging the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that bans homosexual consensual sex and the five justice bench has declared the end of Section 377. Homosexuality is no more an offence in India.
Introduced in 1861, the controversial British-era law under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) called Section 377 banned “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal”, henceforth indirectly criminalising homosexuality in India. The issues related to Section 377 were challenged for the first time in 2001 when two NGOs Naaz Foundation, and AIDS Bedhbhav Virodh Andolan filed petitions in Delhi High Court challenging the law that criminalised sexual activities “against the order of nature” – and the petition was ultimately dismissed.
After ups and downs in the Delhi Court and dismissal from the Supreme Court, the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans-genders) community gained hope in 2014 when the apex court ordered the government to recognise transgender as “third gender”. Fast-forwarding four years, a three-justice SC bench heard a petition in January 2018 that plead for revising the Naaz Foundation judgement. The case was re-heard in the Supreme Court and after a series of hearings, a five-judge bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra pronounced the verdict on Section 377.
The Supreme Court judges declared a landmark verdict for the homosexual community and ended Section 377 in India – supporting the gay rights movement in the country. The SC judges said that “banning and criminalising consensual gay sex, is irrational and arbitrary”; and the court “have to bid adieu to prejudices and to empower all citizens”. Homosexuality and consensual gay sex is no more an offence in India, and freed the LGBT people from having to live in fear and face blackmail, intimidation and pervasive discrimination.