Shocking! 600 Indians arrested for gay sex last year

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Participants in the Delhi Gay Pride Parade (Pic: Aditya Bondyopadhyay)

A shocking number of people were arrested across India in 2014 simply for engaging in gay sex.

The Deccan Herald has reported that almost 600 people were arrested under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises gay sex as “carnal intercourse against the order of nature.”

The colonial era law was struck down in 2009 by the Delhi High Court, but reinstated just over a year ago, in an unexpected December 2013 ruling by the Supreme Court of India.

Now, for the first time, the country’s Home Affairs Ministry has released statistics relating to reported transgressions of the law.

They reveal that 778 cases were opened for contravening Section 377 while 587 people were actually arrested from January to October 2014.

Alarmingly, the real numbers are probably much higher. The newspaper notes that the statistics do not include the months of November and December, and some states have yet to submit any or all their figures to the ministry.

Delhi, which only reported up till the month of September, saw the most incidents, with 140 cases lodged and 110 arrests. The state of Uttar Pradesh, which only provided six months of data, was in second place with 127 cases and 36 arrests.

It’s not clear how many people have been convicted under Section 377. Penalties include life imprisonment.

In April 2014, India’s Supreme Court agreed to hear a petition to reconsider its ruling that re-instated the anti-gay law, but has taken no action since.

Last month, the Minister for Home Affairs, Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary, said the government had no plans to repeal the law, noting that, “The matter is sub-judice before the Honourable Supreme Court of India.”

In addition to the arrests, there are also reports of a surge in crimes against LGBT people in India since Section 377 was re-instated.

“Across the country, we are getting many more reports about threats, intimidation, police harassment, rapes and especially cases of blackmail and extortion,” Abhina Aher, programme manager for Pehchan, recently told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“People have gone back into the closet after the Supreme Court ruling. There is no doubt about that. There is so much more fear than before,” added Aher.

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