Is homosexuality legal in India? Do you want to get an answer to this question before you start your tour to India, then read on. Homosexuality is an ancient practice where two individuals of the same sex enjoy sexual relations with each other. In many countries of the world, the law has allowed sex between same sexes, and even marriages of the same sex are taking place. However, there are many countries like India where homosexuality is still regarded unlawful. Though people indulge in this practice behind the curtains, the society does not approve such relations between two men or two women. Is homosexuality legal in India is a question that troubles many people even today. It is the Indian Penal Code section 377 that deals with homosexuality. This article tries to explore this complicated and law in a bid to explain the current position of the law regarding homosexuality in India.
Is Homosexuality Legal in India – Facts to know
Law on homosexuality is draconian and very old
Section 377 of the IPC declares homosexuality illegal and treats individuals engaging in this practice as criminals to be punished by the law. This archaic law was introduced long time ago by the British government. Since then, there have been lots of changes in the society and the thinking and attitude of the people regarding sex between people of the same sex. Laws in many countries around the world have become very liberal and such couples have even got a legal status in many countries. In the year 2009, the Delhi High Court, in a judgement involving a case of homosexuality quashed this archaic law and declared homosexuality legal. The homosexuals in India, including the gays and the lesbian community became a happy lot thinking that this draconian law would not come back again to haunt them.
The recent ruling of the Supreme Court is seen as a retrograde step
In December 2013, the Supreme Court of India overturned the ruling of the High Court given in this case and upheld the old law on homosexuality that treats homosexuals as criminals and makes them eligible for a jail term up to ten years. This decision has once again sent jitters down the spine of millions of people belonging to the homosexual community. They now know that they can be subjected to harassment and prosecution by law enforcement authorities.
The new ruling of the Supreme Court has sent shock waves across millions of Indians who are homosexual and even surprised many in the western world. Section 377 of the IPC was introduced by Lord Macaulay way back in the year 1860. This section states that ‘whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman, or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment.’ Gay and lesbian people were rejoicing after the ruling of the High Court in 2009 and were even planning to go out in the public affirming their sexual relationships. Now, they find themselves demoralized as they are now treated as criminals by the law.
Though the Indian society is by and large divided on the issue of homosexuality, there are many organizations and prominent personalities who have expressed their disapproval of the Supreme Court’s decision. These people feel that an individual should have the liberty to decide with whom he chooses to have intimate relations. There are also people who say that this decision is against the right of freedom of expression.