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INDIAN LGBT activists celebrated the “dawn of freedom” today after a landmark decision by the country’s Supreme Court which legalised consensual gay sex.
In a “historic judgement,” the country’s highest court ruled that Section 377, the 157-year old law which criminalised homosexual acts between consenting adults, was “unconstitutional.”
It was previously argued that under Section 377, heterosexual couples were also liable to be jailed for engaging in “consensual penile non-vaginal sex, including penile oral or penile anal sex, in the privacy of their bedrooms.”
However, the LGBT community were the main victims of the draconian law under which those prosecuted faced a 10-year jail sentence.
LGBT activists and their supporters took to the streets to celebrate after yesterday’s verdict which brought an end to the “colonial-era law.”
Justice Indu Malhotra said in her judgement: “History owes an apology to the LGBT community for their ostracisation and discrimination against them.”
Justice Chandrachud said the law had deprived the LGBT community in India of the “simple right to live and love.”
“LGBTs are victims of Victorian morality. Constitutional morality, and not societal morality, should be the driving force for deciding validity of Section 377,” he said.
The decision came after years of campaigning and lobbying by LGBT groups and their supporters, including the Naz Foundation and Voices Against 377 who presented six petitions to the court.
They urged the Supreme Court to reconsider its 2013 judgement which set aside a 2009 ruling by the Delhi High Court that decriminalised homosexual activity.
The “historic decision” was welcomed by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) which, in its 2014 election manifesto, was the only major party committed to repealing the draconian law.
“The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has always advocated for the LGBTQ community in their issues, concerns and fought for their rights in this battle.
“We are all welcoming this historic decision by the court,” activist Lukmanul Hakeemplh said.
Indian National Congress spokesman Shashi Tharoor explained how members of the ruling nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had shouted down previous attempts to legalise gay sex.
"We allowed the government to interfere in our private lives but the apex court has stood up to uphold dignity of the people.
“This is not sex. This is freedom […] government has no space in bedrooms as this is a private act between consenting adults. This is a dawn of freedom," he said.
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