SC reopens debate on Section 377
In a much-needed reprieve to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community, the Supreme Court on Tuesday
New Delhi : In a much-needed reprieve to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community, the Supreme Court on Tuesday referred the matter to a five-judge bench for further hearing on a curative petition challenging its earlier order.
An apex court bench headed by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur had earlier agreed to hear the curative petition against its December 2013 order, upholding validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalises sexual activities against nature, arguably including the homosexual acts, and a January 2014 order by which it had dismissed a bunch of review petitions.
The petitioners include the NGO Naz Foundation, working for the LGBT community.
The plea stated that the judgement was reserved on March 27, 2012, but a verdict was delivered after around 21 months; during this period lots of changes took place, including amendment in laws, which were not considered by the Bench, which delivered the judgement.
The gay rights activists had said thousands from the LGBT community became open about their sexual identity during the past four years after the Delhi High Court "decriminalised" gay sex in 2009, and they were now facing the threat of being prosecuted.
Meanwhile, the members of LGBT community broke into jubilation as soon as the news broke.
"This is a good news," said Elena, an LGBT Activist, while reacting on the apex court's decision.
Another LGBT activist Mohnish said, "It's a progressive step in the right direction. It is a corrective measure."
Section 377 of the IPC came into force in 1862 and defines unnatural offences. It says, "Whoever voluntarily has carnal interÂcourse 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."
Meanwhile, the Madras High Court on Monday observed that homosexuality could be a ground for divorce. The court's observation came while hearing two matrimonial discord cases involving a gay man in one and a lesbian woman in the other.