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India: Supreme Court rules to overturn decriminalization of homosexuality

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The advancement of gay rights took a huge step back in the country of India. According to Reuters on December 11, India’s Supreme Court has overturned a ruling by a lower court back in 2009 that decriminalized gay sex in the country, thus ruling homosexuality as an offense.

As gay rights activists in the country began becoming more vocal in India, the decision was a huge step back and came as a shock as according to the top court, the change of the law could only come from India’s parliament. The decision made by the Delhi High Court back in 2009 was a ruling they didn’t have power to make.

The LGBT community in India feels a level of betrayal as India’s Supreme Court have proven to take a more progressive and advanced stance over the past couple of years when it comes to gay rights.

Section 377 of India’s penal code that dates back to the 19th century bans “sex against the order of nature”. Homosexuality fits that definition and is an offense punishable to up to 10 yeas in prison.

In a ruling that was described as “a day of mourning” for the LGBT community, Arvind Narayan, a lawyer representing the consortium of gay rights groups, viewed the decision as a major disappointment.

“In our understanding, the Supreme Court has always sided with those who have no rights.”

Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asia director of Human Rights Watch, also weighed in on the decision, releasing the following statement:

“The Supreme Court’s ruling is a disappointing setback to human dignity, and the basic rights to privacy and non-discrimination. But now the government should do what it should have done in the first place and seek to repeal section 377.”

The appeal of the 2009 ruling was initially brought to India’s Supreme Court by a most faith-based group who argued, “this unnatural sex is not permissible in all the religions of the world.”

The Supreme Court agreed and now it is time for gay rights leaders to band together to have the colonial law abolished and make a monumental stand against discrimination. It will be a tough fight, but it has to begin somewhere.

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