Thursday, September 06, 2018

Queer Quote: Indian Supreme Court Invalidates Sodomy Law (Finally)

In a victory for tens of millions of LGBT individuals, the Supreme Court of India has finally invalidated India's colonial-era sodomy law, decriminalizing homosexuality and ruling that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is illegal in a near 500-page decision.

The battle to have Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code struck down has taken decades. In 2009, the Delhi High Court ruled the nation's sodomy law unconstitutional but the ruling was appealed to the highest court in the land even though the Indian Government agreed to abide by the decision in 2012. Then in 2013 that Court upheld the law in a shocking ruling that maintained the ban on "carnal intercourse against the order of nature." However, the Court agreed to re-hear that decision in 2014 and today's result follows that litigation.

The opinion is quite comprehensive and ends with some stunning conclusions:
(i) Section 377 of the Penal Code, in so far as it criminalises consensual
sexual conduct between adults of the same sex, is unconstitutional;
(ii) 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
(iii) The choice of whom to partner, the ability to find fulfilment in sexual
intimacies and the right not to be subjected to discriminatory behaviour
are intrinsic to the constitutional protection of sexual orientation;
(iv) Members of the LGBT community are entitled to the benefit of an equal
citizenship, without discrimination, and to the equal protection of law;
(v) The decision in Koushal stands overruled.
This an amazing victory for sexual minorities! Note the highlighted section which indicates that the ruling goes far beyond just striking down sodomy laws (like 2003's Lawrence vs Texas).

Today's Queer Quote is from Jessica Stern of OutRight Action International (formerly the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission), who reacted to the ruling by saying, "The sodomy law that became the model everywhere, from Uganda to Singapore to the U.K. itself, premiered in India, becoming the confusing and dehumanizing standard replicated around the world [and] today’s historic outcome will reverberate across India and the world."

Woo hoo!

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