The New Delhi High Court in India has made consensual sex between members of the same gender legal in the traditionally conservative country. The ruling judges said that the criminalisation of gay sex among consenting adults is a violation of fundamental rights.
“It cannot be forgotten that discrimination is antithesis of equality and that it is the recognition of equality which will foster the dignity of every individual,” said the court in its judgment.
It further noted that the “…inclusiveness that Indian society traditionally displayed, literally in every aspect of life, is manifest in recognising a role in society for everyone. Those perceived by the majority as “deviants’ or ‘different’ are not on that score excluded or ostracised”.
The ruling comes as a triumph for the homosexual community, and “a victory for basic rights to privacy, non-discrimination and liberty,” said Human Rights Watch.
The ruling is only officially binding in the city of New Delhi, but activists say that it sets a precedent that effectively extends the judgment to the rest of the country. The government has recently also said that it was considering reversing the ban on gay sex.
However not everyone is happy with the court’s decision. Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh leaders have warned that they will oppose the decision.
Up until today, gay sex was illegal in India under Section 377 of the Indian Penal code, set down by British colonials, which states that an individual who “voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal” shall be imprisoned for life or for a term exceeding 10 years and be liable to pay a fine.