In ‘Reviewing’ Sec 377, Supreme Court Sparks Hope & Hostility
The Supreme Court on Monday referred to a larger bench a plea seeking decriminalisation of gay sex between two consenting adults.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said that the issue arising out of section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) required to be debated upon by a larger bench.
Section 377 of the IPC refers to 'unnatural offences' and says whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to pay a fine.
The apex court’s move was hailed by the LGBTQ community, which said the judiciary and the parliament must come together to bring about gender equality. Many in the community feel the courts have always been progressive, barring when the Supreme Court had, in 2013, reversed a 2009 Delhi High Court order that had read down 377 and legalised homosexuality.
A prominent social worker from Bangalore said although she welcomed the SC’s move, it was the NDA government’s hesitance that disappointed her the most. She feels that pro-homosexual workers from the BJP must rise to the occasion and convince its top leaders to legislate on the controversial subject.
Another social worker said while re-looking at earlier judgements on section 377, the courts must also seek the opinion of community members. She also felt the judiciary must not only weigh-in socio-religious concerns, but also the aspirational needs and rights of homosexual individuals.
While the Congress’ Mallikarjun Kharge hailed the idea as a step towards gender equality, BJP lawmaker Subramanian Swamy billed homosexuality as a “natural deformity.” Speaking to ANI, Swamy, who’s no stranger to controversy, opined that while those who pursue same-sex relationships cannot be discriminated against, blatant celebration or public expression of homosexuality needs to be punished.
(With inputs from PTI)
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