Section 377: First round won, battle for change begins

SC’s ruling decriminalizing gay sex will have a direct impact on adoption, inheritance laws.

Published: 06th September 2018 11:39 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th September 2018 06:36 AM   |  A+A-

The Chennai pride parade (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: With the Supreme Court on Thursday reading down Section 377 and legalising gay sex in the country, it will now have a direct impact on adoption, inheritance laws and economic rights which till date were a distant dream for the LGBTQI community as the present adoption law bars them from adopting children.

In her first judgement, Justice Indu Malhotra stated that, "LGBTQI persons being a sexual minority have been subjected to societal prejudice, discrimination and violence on account of their sexual orientation. Since Section 377 criminalises carnal intercourse against the order of nature it compels LGBTQI persons to lead closeted lives. As a consequence, LGBTQI persons are seriously disadvantaged and prejudiced when it comes to access to healthcare facilities. This results in serious health issues, including depression and suicidal tendencies amongst members of this community."

READ| History owes apology to LGBT community: Justice Indu Malhotra

After Thursday’s ruling, several activists are planning to work towards a strategy by which they can seek changes in the adoption and inheritance laws and economic rights in terms of life insurance policies and nomination in banking sector.

LGBTQI activist and Indian prince Manvendra Singh Gohil has already decided to adopt a child and said, "Our fight to get all our civil rights will continue."

Justice Malhotra also expressed concern over the health challenges the LGBT community faces and said, "LGBT persons and transgender persons are at a higher risk of contracting HIV as they lack safe spaces to engage in safe-sex practices. They are inhibited from seeking medical help for testing, treatment and supportive care on account of the threat of being 'exposed' and the resultant prosecution."

Anjali Gopalan of Naz Foundation is also geared up for the next legal battle and told TNIE, "We will finalise our strategy as to how we can move ahead and claim the right of same sex marriage and adoption of children. Our battle will continue for the change."

Gay adoption is currently legal in 14 countries worldwide as well as in various jurisdictions throughout the world.

What is Section 377?

“Whoever voluntarily has carnal inter- course against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with impris-onment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine,” says the IPC.

Is it completely scrapped?

No. Only homosexual sex and oral sex, carnal sex with consensus have been decriminalized. Sex with animals will still be considered unnatural sex and a criminal offence.

Fate of those jailed under law

All cases that have already been settled will not be re-opened. SC has asked the lower judiciary to take into account the judgement in all pending cases, even if the trial has begun.

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