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Indian Supreme Court criminalises gay sex, protest erupts in United Kingdom

Thursday, 12 December 2013 - 7:35pm IST | Agency: ANI
After the Indian Supreme court reinstated section 377 of the Indian penal code, protests erupted in Britain.

Activists gathered in British capital London on Thursday to protest against the Indian Supreme Court's decision to reinstate the ban on gay sex.

On 11 December , the Supreme Court set aside a 2009 ruling by the Delhi High Court that had decriminalised gay sex, saying only parliament could change the law by deleting Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which dates back to the 19th century.

Young gay activists who converged at the Indian High Commission protested against the court's verdict on Section 377 of the IPC, and expressed their discontentment.

A student of Oxford University, Shubankar Ghosh, said: “I was certainly very very surprised. In fact, we were supposed to gather in Trafalgar Square today to celebrate and then suddenly to wake up to very concerned phone calls from your friends saying that wake up, you are a criminal again is like, you know, I don’t even think that shock is strong enough a word to describe it.

Section 377 of IPC bans “sex against the order of nature”, which is widely interpreted to mean homosexual sex, and the person committing the act can be punished with up to 10 years in jail. The rule dates back to the days of British colonial rule in India.

The 2009 ruling to exempt gay sex between consenting adults from the ban was the result of a case brought by the Naz Foundation, an Indian sexual rights organisation, which fought a legal battle for almost a decade.

After the Delhi High Court ruling in its favour, a collective of mostly faith-based groups took an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The activists fear the verdict could force homosexuals back into a world of alienation and anonymity.

“This is very shocking as this is against human rights. It will affect large number of people,” said an activist, Ayush.

Wednesday’s decision could now be appealed through a so-called “curative petition”, which would be heard by a panel of five judges.

A psychotherapist, Sanjay Kumar, said: “This country's view on homosexuality is up to date and we've only just been told that we are able to marry and on the same rights as heterosexuals.

But it seems unlikely that the Indian Government will risk taking a stand on the issue in the short term. General elections are coming up in May in the still largely socially conservative nation, and the opposition BJP is already gathering momentum and support. 


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