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India's top court legalises gay sex in landmark ruling

India's top court legalises gay sex in landmark ruling

The historic decision of the Supreme Court to decriminalise part of the 158-year-old colonial law under Section 377 of the IPC, which criminalises consensual consensual gay sex, has been welcomed wholeheartedly by nearly every section of society.

READ | What is Section 377?

In July this year, the court heard a series of petitions asking it to review a previous ruling that upheld the 1861 British colonial era law, under which "unnatural sex" is a criminal act punishable by 10-year prison term and a fine.

In its ruling Thursday, the court said it must protect an individual's right to live with dignity as a fundamental right.

Ritu Dalmia, one of the five LBGTI Indians who put their name to legal petition that succeeded on Thursday, said the verdict made her feel "hope once again". She left the court room ringing when she said, "History owes an apology to the members of this community and their families, for the delay in providing redressal for the ignominy and ostracism that they have suffered through the centuries". We will win each one of them. The lone lady judge on the Bench, Justice Indu Malhotra had said that homosexuality is only a variation and not an aberration.

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According to official data, 2,187 cases under Section 377 were registered in 2016 under the category of "unnatural offences". "This decriminalisation is important but wider rights for the community as citizens is something we will fight for", said Dhall.

"The constitution is a dynamic document, having the primary objective of establishing a dynamic and inclusive society", the judgment of CJI Misra and J Khanwilkar. This sction infringed on right against discrimination under Article 15, and privacy under Article 21. It said that prosecution under Section 377 was significantly less and it only affected "a minuscule fraction of the country's population" comprising lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgenders. "People need to understand that we have equal rights", Shagun Aggarwal said.

Supporters of the campaign to scrap the ban milled around the court before the verdict and cheered the decision, hugging one another and waving rainbow flags.

But a five-judge bench in India's Supreme Court was unanimous in overturning the ban today.

"The UN in India sincerely hopes that the court's ruling will be the first step towards guaranteeing the full range of fundamental rights to LGBTI persons". The Court expressed that it will examine whether its is permissible under Constitutional morality to criminalize sexual acts performed by consenting adults. "Human sexuality can not be defined narrowly. the LGBTQI peoples have a right to equality of protection under the Constitution".