Section 377: SC delivers stunningly progressive verdict

The bench, while striking down key clauses of Section 377, decided to retain only sexual activity with animals and other such acts under the definition of "unnatural sex".

Published: 06th September 2018 12:46 PM  |   Last Updated: 06th September 2018 12:46 PM   |  A+A-

Today's date - September 6, 2018 - will be circled forever in any future discussion on India's law and Constitution. The Supreme Court made history on Thursday by decriminalising homosexuality in a stunningly progressive verdict that is bound to make headlines across the world.

Constitutional rights, guaranteed to every individual Indian, cannot be held hostage to any "majoritarian" social consensus on morality, it said, while striking down key clauses of Section 377.

The section, as it stood, cannot be regarded as constitutional under any reading, the court said in a unanimous verdict by the five-judge constitution bench.

The bench decided to retain only sexual activity with animals and other such acts under the definition of "unnatural sex", a wording that had for long been seen as reflective of Victorian morality. What consenting adults do in their intimate moments will no longer be clubbed with criminal acts.

This reverses a 2013 verdict by the Supreme Court and restores the spirit of the landmark Delhi High Court judgement of 2009, under Justice A P Shah, the first time India's legal system had moved to grow beyond this law of colonial vintage.

Today's judgment restores individual rights in matters of sexuality. More complex matters such as relating to property, inheritance, same-sex marriage and adoption will now be up for debates. But a door has been opened in history: India's LGBTQ community can now live with dignity - it is no longer a criminal one under the law.


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