Emotional celebrations erupt across India when the Supreme Court legalizes gay sex

<pre><pre>Emotional celebrations erupt across India when the Supreme Court legalizes gay sex

Members of India's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community pledged to use the historic ruling to push for greater rights, including same-sex marriage in the Southeast Asian nation of 1.25 billion people.

"The law became a weapon of harassment for the LGBT community," Supreme Court President Dipak Misra said, nullifying the cornerstone of Section 377, a law introduced by British rulers in 1861.

"The story owes an apology to the members of this community and their families, for the delay in repairing the ignominy and ostracism they have suffered over the centuries," the ruling added.

AAP

India is now one of more than 120 countries that have effectively decriminalized homosexuality. The ruling puts pressure on other South Asian nations that still take a hard line on gay rights.

Indian religious groups have fiercely opposed any liberalization of sexual morality.

While LGBT groups shed tears and celebrate, the conservative government made no immediate comment on the ruling. The government opposed the action against Section 377 but ultimately said it would yield to the "wisdom" of the high court.

"It was a law that propagated homophobia," said Keshav Suri, one of the petitioners against Section 377, who organized a Bollywood-style dance show and a champagne party at his family's luxury hotel in Delhi. celebrate the judicial victory.

Many Indian gay professionals moved to Canada and Europe, where they are more accepted, added the businessman who married his partner in Paris this year.

India

Tears and chocolate

Members of the LGBT community embraced and mourned in front of the Supreme Court in New Delhi as news of the verdict spread.

In Chennai, gay activists distributed chocolate. "I have no words, it has taken a long time to arrive, but finally I can say that I am free and have the same rights as others," said Rama Vij, a university student from Calcutta who met with other people to watch television.

Activists had been fighting the ban since the 1990s, suffering several judicial reversals before Thursday's verdict.

The Delhi Supreme Court decriminalized homosexual sex in 2009, but the Supreme Court reinstated the ban in 2014 after an appeal by religious leaders.

According to official data, seven people were convicted on charges of "unnatural crimes" and 16 acquitted in 2016.

India

AAP

The United Nations praised the decision as "a day in which respect and dignity was finally restored in India for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons".

Michel Sidibé, executive director of UN AIDS, added: "I applaud the courageous activists, civil society organizations and community groups that have fought long and hard to reverse this injustice."

Despite the pressure on the LGBT community, India has made some progress on sexual rights in recent years.

A transgender judge, Joyita Mondal Mahi, presides over the courts in the state of West Bengal, Indian passports now indicate whether a holder is "male", "female" or "other", and the city of Raigarh, with 139,000 people, has a transgender mayor.

Many activists like Suri say that same-sex marriage and equal inheritance rights for homosexual couples will be the ultimate equality award. But government lawyers warned Supreme Court judges not to change other parts of the law.

"This is the first step in the history of many other countries that first decriminalized gay sex, allowed civil unions and then marriage," Suri said.

"It's a long battle for equal rights, but I'm sure we'll get there eventually."

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, an activist and openly gay member of an Indian royal family, said the ruling "paved the way for broader social change in society."

"For the first time since independence, the gay community in the country is experiencing freedom in the real sense," Gohil told AFP.

"Now the most important task is to achieve acceptance in society, we need a lot of defense to spread the theme that homosexuals have the same rights as any other individual in India."

New Delhi choreographer Mandeep Raikhy, who has used the performances of his dance company to highlight the experience of homosexuals, was more cautious.

"I do not want to look pessimistic, but I do not think we'll see gay marriage in my life," he said.