Polity and Governance

Supreme Court decriminalises homosexuality

What’s in the news
•The Supreme Court in a landmark judgement in September 2018, struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and decriminalised homosexuality.
•September 6, 2018 is a date characterized by emancipation in the history of the LGBTQIA+ community in India.
•The verdict was welcomed wholeheartedly by the LGBTQIA+ community, the Indian youth and most sections of the population, but the queer community feels that their fate still rests on a question mark. Without a doubt, though, India has come a long way when it comes to acceptance of queers.
What is "LGBTQIA+“?
•L - Lesbian. Lesbian is a term used to refer to homosexual females.
•G - Gay. Gay is a term used to refer to homosexual male.
•B - Bisexual. Bisexual is when a person is attracted to two sexes/genders.
•T - Trans. Trans is an umbrella term for transgender and transsexual people.
•Q - Queer/Questioning. Queer is an umbrella term for all of those who are not heterosexual and/or cisgender (a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex). Questioning is when a person isn't 100% sure of their sexual orientation and/or gender, and are trying to find their true identity.
•I - Intersex. Intersex is when a person has an indeterminate mix of primary and secondary sex characteristics.
•A - Asexuality. Asexuality is when a person experiences no (or little) sexual attraction to people.
•+ - The "+" symbol simply stands for all of the other sexualities, sexes, and genders that aren't included in these few letters.
What was Section 377?
•The Section 377 was introduced by the British Indian government in the year 1861, modelled on the Buggery Act of 1533.
•The Section 377 dealt with “unnatural offences”, and stated that-
     •“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 fine.”
•The AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan filed the first petition in the Delhi High Court against Section 377 in the year 1994, followed by the Naz Foundation in 2001.
•The plea to allow homosexual relations among consenting adults was rejected by the Court.
Review petition
•In 2014 the Naz Foundation filed a review petition, claiming “rights to sexuality, sexual autonomy, choice of sexual partner, life, privacy, dignity and equality, along with the other fundamental rights guaranteed under Part-III of Constitution, are violated by Section 377”.
•The Supreme Court reconsidered petitions filed a by a group of well-known LGBTQIA+ rights activists such as S Johar, journalist Sunil Mehra, chef Ritu Dalmia, hotelier Aman Nath and business executive Ayesha Kapur.
•On 2nd February 2016, the final hearing of the petition submitted by the Naz Foundation and others was heard in the Supreme Court. The three-member bench headed by former Chief Justice of India T. S. Thakur ruled that all petitions that had been submitted were to be reviewed again by a five-member constitutional bench.
Private Member Bill
•Shashi Tharoor introduced Private Member Bill in Lok Sabha to decriminalise homosexuality in 2015 and 2016 but the majority voted against the bill.
The Supreme Court Verdict
•The Supreme Court began hearing on Section 377 on 10th July 2018.
•A five-judge Constitutional bench which was led by the Chief Justice of India- Dipak Misra began hearing petitions which challenged the Section 377 until the day of the historic judgement.
•On September 6, the Supreme Court of India struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and decriminalised homosexuality.  


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