India’s Apex Court has agreed to review a colonial-law that criminalizes homosexuality.
The Supreme Court of India has asked a five-judge bench to review the law which dates back to 1860. The Supreme Court has done so, as it involves issues concerning the country’s constitution, as reported by Hindustan Times.
The decision had been taken after a three-judge bench led by chief justice TS Thakur suggested that the issue should be referred by a five judge bench as it involved matters concerning Indian Constitution.
The Delhi high court declared section 377 of Indian Penal Code as undemocratic in the year 2009. According to section 377 gay sex is “against the order of nature” and makes it punishable offence by 10 years imprisonment. However, the verdict was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2013. It said that parliament could change the colonial-law and reinstated the ban on homosexuality. A prominent activist group Naz Foundation and other activists demanded reconsideration of the law through 8 curative petitions.
The previous congress led government promised to terminate the law but it lost the elections in 2014.
Shashi Tharoor, the opposition congress law maker who commenced the bill, said, “It’s about principles of freedom enshrined in our constitution.”
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, “When millions of people world over are having alternative sexual preferences, it is too late in the day to propound a view that they should be jailed”.
Meanwhile, Union Minister Vankaiya Naidu commented that homosexuality issue is a human issue and said that the government had not formulated any view. He added, “we have to study various aspects and take a final view. The debate is on… I have no personal view, because as a minister people should not talk about personal view.”
Human rights activist group Amnesty India hailed the apex court’s review stating that the archaic law puts LGBTs under physical, mental and legal threat. It emphasized that the Supreme Court has got another chance to correct a serious error.
LGBT activists cheered the move and also said that they are hopeful that the verdict would be in their favour.