Gay Rights in India: All you need to know about Section 377 of IPC

Same sex love and marriage is not a new word to us it is in existence from time immemorial in India where sculptures and vestiges depict sexual acts between women in a feminine world. Historical evidence of same sex relationship can be seen in tantric rituals, in medieval Muslim history, descriptions in Kamasutra. With the advent of Vedic Brahmanism these kind of relationships lost its significance and British colonialism also suppressed this and brought in severe punishments for people having such relationships. South Africa, in 1994, became the first country to constitutionally safeguard rights of gays and lesbians. Canada, France, Luxembourg, Holland, Slovenia, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and New Zealand follow the similar laws. In India there is no such changes that has taken place even today and so these same sex relationship people are victimised in many ways in the society. In UK there has been liberalisation in law regarding same sex relationship and brought some change in social attitudes too. In US there are many campaigns for lesbians and gay rights that are being held to eradicate the discrimination against homosexuality and to legalise same sex marriage.  Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands, and Canada have allowed same sex marriage to occur in their country but same sex marriages in some other countries are punishable by death.  In India many oppose this as they consider it unnatural and immoral as their base is on religious and natural law belief as they consider this unnatural and cannot reproduce the next generation. They argue that if nature wanted that same sex people live together then the other sex would not be in existence and in our society we consider opposite sex marriage for reproducing children. This was created since ages and it goes against the law of the land.  Indian statute does not separately explain about homosexuality but a sexual act of sodomy is a criminal offence in India and can be sued under Section 377 of IPC 1860.

Related Article: Same Sex Marriage: Is It The Time For Legal Recognition

In 2009 a group of nearly 200 lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) had dressed in black to symbolise mourning to protest and demonstrate and shouted slogans like “my gender, my right! My sexuality, My right we want justice: you can’t stop our love!”.  This was against the ruling of Supreme Court of India which in its ruling tottered India’s gay rights movement and left them angry and depressed. Court’s ruling came in response to a lawsuit which was filed by Naz Foundation (India) Trust a gay rights organisation.  n a previous decision by SC in 2009 court had ruled that Section 377 of Indian Penal Code prohibits sexual acts “against the order of nature” that was in existence from British period in 1861 and it violates and deprives citizens of equal rights and freedom under the law. Not many have been prosecuted under Section 377 and the law threatens the violators with a fine and a term of 10 years in prison or can be life sentence. This was welcomed by LGBT community as a moral victory and told that judgment was fabulous in a secular country. And this decision was opposite to the present ruling which overturned the earlier ruling declaring it “a minuscule percentage” are homosexual in India and so thus dismissed the so-called rights to gays and lesbians. This was criticized by many stating that it was judges’ personal view point and not a sound jurisprudence. Conservatives saw the ruling as a triumph of tradition and liberal attitudes as per them these rights of gays were imports from west which is not good to our society. LGBT’s can hope for the best when parliament decriminalises gay sex and amends the Section 377 of Indian Penal Code or clearly approve the same sex relationship.  LGBT festivals are conducted in recent years and parades are held all over the country where thousands and thousands of such people in their 20s and 30s come and meet. Such groups are in existence not only in big cities like Mumbai and Delhi, but also Pondicherry, Vadodara, Vishakhapatnam etc. The movement that is growing for HIV eradication in India has helped the awareness and prevention of the disease and also played a major role in campaigning for LGBT rights.

Related News: SC hearing on gay sex: All you need to know about Section 377

In India gay and lesbian rights activists from all over the nation are protesting for their rights and there is a big debate regarding this in the country to legalise it or not.  The South African court held in, National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian equality V. Ministry of Justice, that, recognising the privacy which we have is a right to sphere of private intimacy and autonomy without interference from the outside community which allows us to establish and nurture the human relationships. Under Section 377 all unnatural sex which cannot procreate is not natural which is very vague and unreasonable and based on the stereotyped notion who think sex is only for procreation.  Section 292 of IPC also can be brought into light here as it punishes obscenity and any gay and lesbian writings can be punished as it can be considered obscene. Since male homosexuality is criminal offence which corrupts the minds of the people. So any writings on gays and lesbians men can be criminalised as it is treated as immoral.

Related Article: The Indian in the Closet New Delhi’s Wrong Turn on Gay Rights

Recently India voted against the gay rights in United Nations and India was among 43 countries who supported Russia which proposed removing benefits for same-sex partners of UN staff, it was put to vote and the resolution failed to pass since 80 nations opposed it in General Assembly. Indian secular citizens took to internet to express their disappointment.  India voted for Russia, because homosexuality in India is a criminal offence under Section 377 and so it cannot vote against it as it will be against Indian law.

Gay men and lesbians are just human and their desire of sexual relations are as humanly as it can be and getting married and staying together is the way they show their love to their partner which gay people in India are deprived of.  With the introduction of globalisation there has been an enormous change in the life of people and their thinking. As a person can be a gay or lesbian by choice and choosing a partner of same sex is not moral, it is what our society thinks but a satisfactory personal life to a gay couple is more of a right which has to be given if we see it in the gay or lesbian’s perspective.

Related News: Section 377 and LGBT rights: Here’s what you need to know

Recently in March 11th 2016, Shashi Tharoor Congress Member seeking to introduce Bill decriminalizing Homosexuality in the Lok Sabha was basically for the amendment of the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which actually, criminalizing the homosexuality. As such, through this Bill the acts of ‘homosexuality’ were sought to be decriminalized, but the same was rejected in the Lok Sabha, at the very initial stage of its introduction.

Related News: Bill decriminalizing Homosexuality introduced by the Congress Member Shashi Tharoor, again defeated

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