India ruling ends gay sex ban

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The court will be giving its verdict on the 5 petitions which state that Section 377 violates the basic rights mentioned in the Constitution of India.

In its order, the apex court said, "The declaration of the aforesaid reading down of Section 377 shall not, however, 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".

While announcing the ruling, numerous justices noted that the unanimous overturning of the law was long overdue. President of Congress Sonia Gandhi whole-heartedly welcomed the decision and said "The High Court had wisely removed an archaic, repressive and unjust law that infringed on the basic human rights enshrined in our Constitution".

The top court's historic judgment triggered widespread celebrations among sections of civil society, human rights and the LGBT community.

LGBT community in India is celebrating the SC's historical judgement wherein it has decriminalised the draconian law.

The bench, which also comprised Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, struck down part of (rpt part of) Section 377 of the IPC as being violative of the right to equality and the right to live with dignity. According to ruling, sexual orientation discrimination is considered a fundamental violation of rights.

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"Any consensual sexual relationship between two consenting adults - homosexuals, heterosexuals or lesbians - can not be said to be unconstitutional", said the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, as he read out the judgment.

Section 377, imposing deep prejudices in terms of gender stereotypes, was found to be offensive to Article 15, he said.

In 2009, a court in the capital New Delhi had already repealed the law, but the highest court reinstated it as a criminal offense in 2013, bowing to pressure from religious groups.

By passing this landmark judgment, the Supreme Court has put India on a progressive path, finally giving many citizens the right to choose their partners and be treated as equals in the eyes of the law. As per Section 377, anyone indulging in any kind of sexual activity which is against "the law of nature" will be criminalized. The impact of Section 377 has travelled far beyond the punishment of an offence. But their treatment - both shunned as impure, and embraced for the belief that they can bring powerful blessings - reflects the complexities of gay life here. But that decision was reversed by a two-judge Supreme Court decision in 2013, in the case of Suresh Kumar Koushal vs Naz Foundation. He added, "Decriminalising Section 377 is the first step".

"But if the long legal battle and the courage of queer people and communities are anything to go by, this fight for equal rights will not end".

Across the country, gay people gathered in front of their television sets, waiting anxiously for the verdict to be announced.

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