Love triumphs over all the hurdles: Supreme Court Ends Section 377

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6th September 2018. Save the date! Thus, another memorable verdict passed by the Supreme Court of India, which would be etched forever in the history of the country.

To know more, nearly six weeks after the Supreme Court (SC) had reserved its verdict on the decriminalization of homosexuality under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, the apex court today finally announced its verdict on the matter.

Of course, the verdict comes as a sigh of relief to the depression, pain, mockery, and hatred, endured all these years by those ‘different kind of people’ as connoted popularly.

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Now speaking officially, from this day, Homosexuality is not an offense in India, as declared by the five Supreme Court judges, in a spectacular verdict for the gay rights movement in the country. Finally, the Supreme Court reversed its own 2013 decision and added that Section 377, a controversial British-era ban on consensual gay sex, is irrational and arbitrary. Reading out the historical judgment, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, added that, “We have to bid adieu to prejudices and empower all citizens”. The other four judges gave a concurrent judgment.

The entire country is now basking in the glory of as the apex court of the country criminalized Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that criminalized gay sex.

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However, what is this Section 377 of IPC all about? Let’s steal a glance:

  • Section 377 of IPC refers to ‘unnatural offense’ which further adds that any person, who 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 for a term which may be extended to 10 years, and also would be liable to pay a fine.

  • Section 377 came into force in 1861 during the British rule of India and was modeled on the Buggery Act of 1533. It criminalized sexual activities “against the order of nature,” including homosexual activities.

  • This issue of Section 377 was first raised by an NGO, Naaz Foundation, and AIDS Bedhbhav Virodh Andolan in the Delhi High Court in 2001. However, then, both these petitions were dismissed in the court.

  • Again, eight years later, in 2009, the Delhi High Court decriminalized sex between consenting adults of the same gender holding the penal provision “illegal”.

  • The road was not so easy, however, and in 2009, the judgment of the Delhi High Court was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2013 which had also dismissed a review plea.

  • In 2014, the LGBT community got the first ray of hope when the Supreme Court directed the government at the Centre to declare transgender a ‘third gender’ and include them in the OBC quota.

  • January 2018 again saw a three-member bench of the Supreme Court hearing a petition filed by five petitioners asking the apex court to revisit the Naaz Foundation judgment. The case was then referred to a larger bench, seeking help from the Centre.

  • The Supreme Court on July 2017 this year, reserved the verdict on whether to decriminalizeSection 377 or not.

  • Finally, on September 6, 2018, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court ends Section 377.

Of course, India had created history. On a second note, this particular verdict on Section 377 is definitely one of the key defining moments before Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra hands over the reins to his successor, on 3 October, after three weeks.