SC agrees to revisit order banning gay sex

Reopening the debate on Indian Penal Code's Article 377, the three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by CJI Dipak Misra said, "it would reconsider and examine the Constitutional validity of section 377".

"A section of people or individuals who exercise their choice should never remain in a state of fear". Lawyer Anand Grover, who appeared for five members of the LGBT community who had petitioned the court seeking a review of the ban, said: "It is a big relief and a primary step taken by the Supreme Court to review its earlier order".

Critics say the law lets government clerks refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses and lets adoption and foster-care organizations decline to place children with LGBT families.

Of the five petitioners, Navtej Singh Johar is a renowned Bharatnatyam dancer and victor of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Sunil Mehra is a journalist, Ritu Dalmia is a restaurateur and Aman Nath is a hotelier and co-founder/chairman of the established Neemrana hotel chain.

The Supreme Court on Monday made a decision to review the contentious Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, five years after its two-judge bench set aside a Delhi High Court judgement decriminalising homosexuality. This also has implications for heterosexuals, as consensual sexual acts of adults - oral and anal sex in private - are now treated as unnatural and punishable under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. The court provided a big boost to the LGBT community by declaring that the 2014 order, which annulled a Delhi High Court verdict decriminalizing gay sex between consenting adults was gravely erroneous. "It has the potential to destroy individual choice and sexual orientation", adding that right to privacy means "I have a right to choose my sexual partner". "Because of that, we are pleased that the Supreme Court declined to take up these baseless challenges, which misrepresented the law's sole objective of ensuring that Mississippians don't live in fear of losing their careers or their businesses simply for affirming marriage as a husband-wife union".

"The 5th Circuit was right to find that those opposing this law haven't been harmed and, therefore, can't try to take it down", Kevin Theriot, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a statement.

Section 377 of IPC - which came into force in 1862 - defines unnatural offences.

Mississippi's law was one of a series of measures proposed in socially conservative, Republican-dominated states that gay rights advocates viewed as an attempt to undermine the High Court's gay marriage ruling.

  • Joey Payne