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POST TIME: 7 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
India ends gay sex ban
AFP

India ends gay sex ban

NEW DELHI: India's Supreme Court yesterday struck down a ban on gay sex after a decades-old campaign against a colonial-era law used to hold back LGBT rights, reports AFP. Members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups held tearful celebrations in cities across the South Asian nation of 1.25 billion people as the historic verdict was read out.

"The law had become a weapon for harassment for the LGBT community," said chief justice Dipak Misra as he quashed the cornerstone of Section 377, a law introduced by British rulers in 1861. "Any discrimination on the basis of sexuality amounts to a violation of fundamental rights," he added in the ruling, which added India to a list of more than 120 countries where homosexuality is decriminalised. While India's law only legalises sexual acts between adults, gay activists have hailed the verdict as a major boost in the deeply conservative country where religious groups have fiercely opposed any liberalisation of sexual morality.

Activists had been fighting the ban since the 1990s, suffering several court reverses before Thursday's verdict.

The Delhi High Court decriminalised gay sex in 2009, but the Supreme Court reinstated the ban in 2014 after an appeal by religious leaders.

According to official data, 2,187 cases under Section 377 were registered in 2016 under the category of "unnatural offences".

Seven people were convicted and 16 acquitted.

"It was a law that propagated homophobia," said Keshav Suri, one of the petitioners against Section 377, who organised a dance show at his family's luxury Delhi hotel to celebrate the court victory.

"In rural areas it is a harassment tool, used by cops, used by authorities for extortion for glorifying rape and molestation," Suri told AFP in an interview ahead of the verdict.

Many Indian gay professionals have moved to Canada and Europe where they are more accepted, added the businessman who married his partner in Paris this year.