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India’s gay sex ban reinstated

 

India was under British rule between 1858 and 1947.  It was declared controlled by the crown and subject to colonial laws.  Although Britain itself has moved away from its more archaic legal stances in issues such as homosexuality (first gay marriages to be held in Britain in March 2014) its colonies have not shaken off the old laws quite as readily.

 

 

Image from Associated Press

 

Unnatural

One example of this was highlighted recently when the Indian supreme court took back a law it enacted in 2009 which decriminalised homosexual acts.  The colonial law in question is over 150 years old and is now known as Section 377.  Under this section the term “unnatural offense” is used to describe same sex relationships, the court ruling that  it’s up to the parliament to change his.  In a country where gay people are harassed by the authorities as well as their communities this is a major backwards step.

Minister Kapil Sibal has said the government will respect the findings of the two judge court but did not go on to suggest when the government might discuss changing the law or not.  With elections on the horizon I doubt anyone is holding their breath.  A lawyer of the Alternative Law Forum gay rights group, Arvind Narayan, said

Such a decision was totally unexpected from the top court. It is a black day for the community….  We are very angry about this regressive decision of the court

His sentiments were echoed by a lawyer for the Naz Foundation non-profit group working with HIV-AIDS patients:

The movement of gay rights is so much stronger now. It is not 2001, it is 2013. You can’t have a decision like this

Both Christian and Muslim groups had petitioned the courts to overturn the 2009 ruling, but we can only hope the government do the right thing and change the legislation.  It must be heartbreaking to have fought against old laws, laws that didn’t even originate in your country, to have them overturned just to be pulled back into the dark ages again.

 

 

Protests came from Sikhs, Christians and Muslims

 

Others

India is not the first country to go backwards on rights.  Russia has gained a great deal of negative press lately for its stripping of gay rights.  India’s LGBT community has worked hard to raise awareness in recent years with Pride parades and moves to change the political landscape.  Here’s hoping this just re-motivates them and that they get the rights they deserve sooner rather than later.

 

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One Comment

  • Hi Rachel,

    We’re only s small group of volunteers and, unfortunately, some spelling errors fall through the cracks.

    I know it can be frustrating to read an article and be editing in your head at the same time.

    Please call us out on them, as we can go back into the post and update.

    Thanks for the comment :D

    HAL said:
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