India's Supreme Court strikes down law that punished gay sex

During the hearings the Supreme Court had observed that stigma attached to ‘gay sex’ will be removed once the ‘criminality attached to Section 377 of the IPC goes

Supreme Court decriminalises Section 377, declares homosexuality legal

"History owes an apology to members of the community for the delay in ensuring their rights", said Indu Malhotra, who was another judge on the bench.

Observing that the Constitution nurtured dissent as a "safety valve" of society, he said "we cannot change the history but can pave a way for better future".

Today, thanks to a landmark Supreme Court ruling, it is no longer illegal to take part in homosexual acts, and literally the entire LGBT community in India is taking to the streets to celebrate.

Justice Chandrachud ruled that "Members of the LGBT community are entitled, as all other citizens, to the full range of constitutional rights including the liberties protected by the Constitution" and that the LGBT people are "entitled to the benefit of an equal citizenship, without discrimination, and to the equal protection of law".

"The Bangladeshi LGBT community has gained moral support", said Shahanur Islam, executive director of the Bangladesh Institute for Human Rights.

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Section 377 of the Indian penal code, enacted by British rulers in 1861, banned "carnal intercourse against the order of nature".

The CJI also said: "Section 377 IPC subjects the LGBT community to societal pariah and dereliction and is, therefore, manifestly arbitrary, for it has become an odious weapon for the harassment of the LGBT community by subjecting them to discrimination and unequal treatment".

The bench said courts must protect the dignity of an individual as right to live with dignity is recognised as fundamental right.

The Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said that LGBT community possesses rights like others and majoritarian views can not dictate constitutional rights.

The Lalit hotel's Keshav Suri, one of the court's petitioners, entered the lobby to rousing applause, gave his husband a peck on the cheek and declared: "It is time to celebrate". Back in July of 2009, the Delhi High Court decriminalized homosexuality, but it didn't stick.

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LGBTQ activist Anjali Nazia said the Supreme Court had paved way for bigger judgements ahead. "We know we have a long way to go in terms of right to adoption, right to marriage but it is a very welcome beginning", Joshi said.

"We are finally not criminals and this minuscule minority has an identity now", is how gender and sexuality rights activist Arpit Bhalla put it. That the law must not discriminate is one aspect of equality.

The Supreme Court verdict is being cheered by millions across the country, far beyond the gay community, which has fought for decades for the right to be treated equally.

While India's law only legalises sexual acts between adults, gay activists have hailed the verdict as a major boost in the deeply conservative country where religious groups have fiercely opposed any liberalisation of sexual morality.

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