Will India’s Supreme Court Decriminalize Gay Sex? | NowThis World

In India, the fate of millions hang in the balance Their Supreme Court is currently deciding whether to scrap one of the world’s oldest laws that criminalizes gay sex

"Knowing that your sexuality is criminalised by the state has a big impact on what you think about yourself” Other countries like the United States, Nepal, Canada, and more, have all overturned similar laws that criminalized homosexuality Could it be India’s turn to take this step? I’m Judah with NowThis World and today we’re going to explore the history of this outdated law and what its meant for the LGBTQ community India Many say Section 377 has stripped millions of gay people of their dignity and privacy and has also created a hostile environment where gay and transgender people fear reporting things like sexual harassment or assault — because they fear they too will be arrested, even if they are the victims But it’s important to note that same-sex relations weren’t always this taboo in India

For much of its pre- colonial history, the country remained rather relaxed when it came to depictions of same-sex love and gender identity But that acceptance eventually eroded due to British colonialism Section 377 can be traced back to other british laws that policed morality It began with the Buggery Act of 1533 in the United Kingdom That law was enacted under King Henry the 8th and outlawed things like anal sex and bestiality, and it essentially outlawed sexual relations between men as a whole

If someone was found guilty under this law, it would be punishable by death That law was repealed and replaced by the Offences against the Person ACt of 1828, which widened the definition of what was considered to be quote “unnatural acts,” making the prosecution of gay people much easier If convicted, victims would serve anywhere between 10 years to life in prison That law, which was eventually replaced by the Offences against the Person Act of 1861, was seen as the inspiration of the anti-gay penal code in India that was written in 1838, but enacted in 1860 And even though the United Kingdom decriminalized homosexuality in 1967, and even legalized same-sex marriage in 2014 — the country’s deep seeded influence is still felt in post colonial states, like India, today

India’s current law stipulates that quote “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 ten years, and shall also be liable to fine" So while this law is typically enforced in cases involving men who have sex with men, the law technically can also be applied to anyone caught having anal or even oral sex Despite its rare enforcement, Section 377 has had real life consequences for same-sex loving people in India — as it’s contributed to a sense of fear among the LGBTQ community there There are those that don’t report when they have been the victims of crimes and there are also cases of gay people fleeing the country and seeking asylum based on their sexual orientation There seemed to be progress made in 2009 for the community, when the High Court of Delhi overturned the gay sex ban in a landmark decision

While the decision only affected areas of New Dehli, not the entire country, it was seen as a major milestone for LGBTQ rights there But it didn’t last for long Immediately after the ruling a number of conservative Christian, Muslim, and Hindu groups filed an appeal of the decision Those groups won that appeal in 2013, and the gay sex ban was once again took affect Now, that same court will determine whether LGBTQ people in India will finally be treated equally before the law and whether or not Section 377 will become a relic of the past

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