India Legalized Homosexuality in Landmark SC Ruling
In a landmark ruling by the supreme court of India, a colonial-era law under which homosexual relationships were an “unnatural offence” warranting a jail sentence of up to 10 years has been rendered moot after petitions against the validity of Section 377 were heard. “Any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates fundamental rights”, proclaimed the SC in the ruling on Thursday.
Hundreds of LGBTQ campaigners gathered outside the SC in Delhi to listen to the verdict, which later erupted into loud cheering and jubilations in the streets as they found out the verdict to remove Section 377 from the constitution. The ruling BJP party remained silent throughout the proceedings, claiming to respect the “wisdom of the court” on the matter.
It was claimed by many petitioners that the law was abused by members of society in marginalizing the gay and transgender communities in India for decades, involving rampant harassment and violence.
Members of the LGBTQ communities in neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are hopeful lawmakers will be able to make similar judicial and legislative strides in their respective countries as a result of the example set by lawmakers in India.
Unlike surrounding Muslim-majority Bangladesh and Pakistan, India has a rich and storied culture involving homosexual relations, as evidence by stone carvings on temples like Khajuraho in the south of India.
In Pakistan over recent years, transgenders were finally recognized as a third gender by the supreme court, allowing them to identify as such on National Identity Cards and proving them with other basic human rights across the country. In addition, they were finally given the right to vote leading up to the General Elections of 2018.