Supreme Court to announce final Verdict on Section 377

Supreme Court to announce final Verdict on Section 377

In a historic decision, the Supreme Court of India today decriminalised gay sex between consenting adults by reading down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

In a unanimous decision, five Supreme Court justices ruled that the law was a weapon used to harass members of India's gay community and resulted in discrimination.

Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the ruling was unanimous, and all five judges wrote sections of the order that runs nearly 500 pages long. The Centre had said that the other aspects of the penal provision dealing with minors and animals should be allowed to remain in the statute book. Under the British-era law, people can be imprisoned under section 377 for up to 10 years.

On September 6, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra and comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud, Rohinton Fali Nariman, A M Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra, announced the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

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The trial is expected to be called off once the Supreme Court order is mentioned before a judge hearing such a case where there were involvements of consensual adults, the official said.

The ruling strikes down a 146-year-old colonial-era law, known as Section 377, banning gay sex. "That we can do by saying, as I propose to say in this case, that lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders have a constitutional right to equal citizenship in all its manifestations", he wrote, supporting partial striking down of Section 377.

In its ruling Thursday, the court said it must protect an individual's right to live with dignity as a fundamental right.

"Constitutional morality can not be martyred at the altar of social morality", Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, reading out the verdict.

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In so far as consensual unnatural sexual act in private is concerned, it is neither harmful nor contagious to society, the bench said.

But in January this year, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge by a clutch of high-profile Indians who said the law created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in the world's largest democracy. "I am speechless! It's taken a long time to come but finally I can say I am free and I have equal rights as others", said Rama Vij, a college student in Kolkata who gathered with others to watch on television.

The Section 377 verdict is being cheered by millions across India now. We also hope that the judgment will boost efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination against LGBTI persons in all areas of social, economic, cultural and political activity, thereby ensuring a truly inclusive society. "These relationships are not natural, so we do not support this kind of relationship".

Indian members of the Integration Society, an organization committed to the defence of human rights and sexual freedom carry a rainbow banner as they take part in a march entitled "Walk on the Rainbow" in Kolkata, 26 June 2005 to commemorate the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots in NY, said to be the birth of the Gay Liberation Movement.

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