Justice Nariman briefly went through his order, but importantly said that the government must ensure that the apex court’s judgment is given “wide publicity” on television, radio, print and online.
The Supreme Court had said that gay sex between consenting adults in private is not an offence.
A group advocating for the rights of sexual minorities argued that the law violates India’s constitution, which guarantees the equality of all citizens.
NEW DELHI, – India’s top court scrapped a colonial-era ban on gay sex on Thursday in a landmark judgment that sparked celebrations across the country where gay sex had been punishable by prison for up to 10 years. Observing that the Constitution nurtured dissent as a “safety valve” of the society, he said “we cannot change the history but can pave a way for better future”. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party had said it would support any decision by the Supreme Court but one prominent member of the party criticised the court ruling.
Countries across the globe which paved the way for equality and justice for the LGBT community were cited by the Supreme Court while striking down part of Section 377 of IPC this week, and quoted liberally from the judgements delivered by their courts on the issue.
The controversial legislation has been widely used to clamp down on the LGBT+ community in India, which is home to 1.3 billion people.
They were responding to the same media queries, appearing on countless TV panel discussions, and celebrating the victory of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community in the world’s largest democracy.
“I can’t find the words to express my happiness”, Anjali Gopalan, founder of the Naz Foundation, a nongovernmental organization that first began mounting a challenge to Section 377 in 2001, said in the courtroom just minutes after the verdict. On the other hand, adopting children for homosexuals will be easier.
Latest verdict on Section 377 clearly states that homosexuals enjoy the same rights enjoyed by others.
She also added that decriminalisation of section 377 shall not lead to the reopening of any concluded prosecutions, but can certainly be relied upon in all pending matters whether they are at the trial, appellate, or revisional stages.
During one hearing, Justice Chandrachud observed that “our focus is not only on the sexual act, but the relationship between two consenting adults and the manifestation of their rights under Articles 14 and 21 …” This is the firsts of many firsts. Cheers to a more equal and inclusive nation than we had yesterday without the threat of being punished on the basis of an individual’s identity and whom they choose to love.
In 2009, a court in the capital New Delhi had already repealed the law, but the highest court reinstated it as a criminal offense in 2013, bowing to pressure from religious groups.
“Society owes an apology to the LGBTQ community”, said Justice Malhotra.
Now homosexuality and consensual sexual acts like oral and anal sex are no more an offence in India but however bestiality and forceful oral and anal sex remain an offence.
The unanimous judgment was authored by four out of the five judges on the bench. News channels showed people in cities across India weeping and embracing as they celebrated the historic decision.
What the Supreme Court judgment appears to have done is to persuade parties like the Congress, which usually hedges its bets lest it should fall on the wrong side of public opinion, to come out in the verdict’s favour, presumably because it senses that this judgment, more than any other, has become a touchstone in the matter of breaking out from the stranglehold of the past.