NEW DELHI: Asserting that criminalising consensual sexual acts between persons of same gender was violative of their fundamental rights, Supreme Court Justice Indu Malhotra on Thursday said that history owed an apology to the Indian LGBTs for "delay in providing redressal" for their sufferings over the centuries.
Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code - which criminalised consensual sexual acts of same-gender adults in private -- is violative of Articles 14, 15, 19, and 21 of the Constitution, the Judge ruled.
"History owes an apology... for the delay in providing redressal for the ignominy and ostracism that they suffered through the centuries", Justice Indu Malhotra said in a separate judgment while concurring with the one pronounced by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.
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The community was "compelled to live a life full of fear of reprisals and persecution, on account of ignorance of the majority to recognise that homosexuality is a completely natural condition, part of a range of human sexuality."
Pointing out that the LGBTs deserve to live a life unshackled from the shadow of being 'unapprehended felons', Justice Malhotra said: "The mis-application of this provision (Section 377) denied them the fundamental right to equality guaranteed by Article 14 of the Constitution."
She said that it (discrimination) infringed the right to non-discrimination under Article 15, and the right to live a life of dignity and privacy guaranteed by Article 21.
Justice Malhotra said that sexual orientation is innate to a human being and is an important attribute of one's personality and identity. "... LGBT persons have little or no choice over their sexual orientation."
She said LGBT persons, like heterosexual persons, are entitled to "privacy", and the right to lead a "dignified existence, without fear of persecution."
"The right to life and liberty would encompass the right to sexual autonomy, and freedom of expression," she said in her judgment.
In a historic verdict, the Supreme Court on Thursday decriminalised homosexuality between consenting adults by declaring as "manifestly arbitrary" Section 377 of the IPC, which was welcomed by the LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, intersex and queer/questioning) community and others.