India eliminates the colonial era ban on gay sex in a historic decision

India has scrapped a colonial-era ban on gay sex in a landmark trial activists hope will defend the right to equality. The activists showed their emotion as the ruling was delivered today

India has scrapped a colonial era ban on gay sex in a historical trial that activists hope will defend the right to equality.

Gay sex is considered taboo by many in socially conservative India, and was reinstated as a crime in 2013 after four years of decriminalization.

A court of five judges in the Supreme Court of India was unanimous in annulling the ban. Gay sex had previously been punished with up to 10 years in prison.

After the ruling, opponents of the law danced and waved flags off the field.

"We feel like equal citizens now," said activist Shashi Bhushan. & # 39; What happens in our room remains to us & # 39;

India has scrapped a colonial-era ban on gay sex in a landmark trial activists hope will defend the right to equality. The activists showed their emotion as the ruling was delivered today

India has scrapped a colonial-era ban on gay sex in a landmark trial activists hope will defend the right to equality. The activists showed their emotion as the ruling was delivered today

The decision sparked wild celebrations among the activists. In the photo: members of LGBT joy in Mumbai

The decision sparked wild celebrations among the activists. In the photo: members of LGBT joy in Mumbai

The decision sparked wild celebrations among the activists. In the photo: members of LGBT joy in Mumbai

The law, known as Section 377, held that sexual relations between members of the same sex were against the order of nature.

The five petitioners who challenged the law said it was discriminatory and that gays lived in fear of being harassed and prosecuted by the police.

Arvind Datar, the petitioners' lawyer, argued in court that the criminal provision was unconstitutional because it provides for the prosecution and sentencing of consenting adults.

A higher court in New Delhi in 2009 declared Article 377 unconstitutional, but that decision was overturned in a ruling by three Supreme Court judges in 2013 on the grounds that the amendment or repeal of the law should be left to Parliament.

However, politicians did not take action and in July the government told the Supreme Court to rule on the case.

"It can not be said that any consensual sexual relationship between two consenting adults (homosexuals, heterosexuals or lesbians) is unconstitutional," India's Supreme Court Chief Justice Dipak Misra said as he read the trial today.

In the last decade, homosexuals have gained a degree of acceptance in deeply conservative parts of India, especially in large cities.

Gay sex is considered taboo by many in socially conservative India, and was reinstated as a crime in 2013 after four years of decriminalization. People imagine celebrating in Mumbai

Gay sex is considered taboo by many in socially conservative India, and was reinstated as a crime in 2013 after four years of decriminalization. People imagine celebrating in Mumbai

Gay sex is considered taboo by many in socially conservative India, and was reinstated as a crime in 2013 after four years of decriminalization. People imagine celebrating in Mumbai

An activist waves a rainbow flag after the historic ruling that legalizes homosexual sex today

An activist waves a rainbow flag after the historic ruling that legalizes homosexual sex today

An activist waves a rainbow flag after the historic ruling that legalizes homosexual sex today

Some high-profile Bollywood films have dealt with homosexual themes, but being gay is still considered shameful in much of the country.

Karan Johar, a producer and director of Bollywood, said Thursday's verdict was a budding story.

"Very proud today! Decriminalizing homosexuality and abolishing section 377 is a great thumb for humanity and equal rights! The country recovers its oxygen!" He wrote on Twitter.

Thanks to everyone who fought for this, challenging the worst kind of prejudice. This is a good day for human rights, "Meenakshi Ganguly, director for South Asia at Human Rights Watch, said on Twitter.

"It's not just about decriminalizing but about recognizing our fundamental rights," Akhilesh Godi, one of the petitioners in the case, told Reuters shortly before the ruling was announced.

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