News / Asia

Indian Supreme Court Upholds Anti-Gay Law

FILE - A view of the Indian Supreme Court building in New Delhi.
FILE - A view of the Indian Supreme Court building in New Delhi.
Anjana Pasricha
In a major setback to India’s homosexual community, the country’s Supreme Court has upheld a 19th century law which criminalizes gay sex.  The top court’s ruling came in response to mostly religious groups which had challenged a 2009 judgment legalizing homosexuality.

A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a law which bans sex “against the order of nature” is constitutionally valid.  It said only parliament could change the law.

The top court’s ruling has overturned a 2009 landmark judgment in which the Delhi High Court had legalized gay sex saying that a ban on it between consenting adults infringed on fundamental rights.

Wednesday’s judgment sent shockwaves through the gay community, which denounced it as regressive.
 
Gay rights activists who led the legal battle to decriminalize homosexuality vowed to explore all channels to take their battle forward, saying the fight is not over. Many said they had been let down by the top court.

Shaleen Rakesh, a gay man, has been closely involved with the legal fight for gay rights. He says a single judgment has reversed the hopeful journey of recent years and echoed what many gays are saying across the country.  

“I am shocked to be living in a country which wants me to go back into the closet. I am not going to go back into the closet,” he said.

Anjali Gopalan, head of the Naz Foundation, which led the legal battle to overturn the ban on homosexuality, said, “I am so exhausted thinking that we’ve been set back by a 100 years. What ages are we living in?  What is this reflective of us as a culture, what does this say of us as a people? It’s bizarre that we got the judgment that we did. It’s really pathetic and sad.”   
 
Gay sex has long been frowned upon in India, but the 2009 judgment had encouraged homosexuals to come out in the open. In recent years, gay pride marches have been held in major cities like New Delhi and Mumbai, though in a country where acceptance of homosexuality is low, some participants still covered their faces during the marches.
 
Among those who had challenged the 2009 law decriminalizing homosexuality was the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. Its spokesman, Zafaryab Jilani, said Indian heritage has been upheld by the Supreme Court’s ruling.

He says things (homosexuality) which had never been accepted in India cannot be legalized. He says homosexuality is not just against Islam, but against all religions.  

With the Supreme Court saying that it is up to the legislature to take a fresh look at the law banning homosexuality, all eyes are now on the government. But with elections due next year, it is unlikely to take a stand.
    
India’s Law Minister Kapil Sibal reacted cautiously, saying the Supreme Court’s opinion must be respected. He did not say what the government’s next move would be.
 
“We have the prerogative to make laws. We shall exercise our prerogative. I am not going to extend my comments beyond that,” he said.
 
Although the law, which carries a maximum 10-year jail sentence, is seldom enforced, India’s gay community has long complained of harassment by police.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: James from: India
December 23, 2013 9:53 PM
India of all places should understand homosexuality and why it exists in Nature. They abundantly believe in reincarnation and you with think with any sensible logic that the spirit is not bound by the attributes of the body and the soul would live many lives as both man and women, that during these transitory periods it would take several lifetimes for this to fully occur. To punish their own people for what is naturally a byproduct of the reincarnation process is absurd, cruel and purely ignorant.

Why is that religions that glorify the soul put so much weight on the body? Souls likely are genderless having no body after you die. Why the fuss? This is cruel and ignorant.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
December 11, 2013 8:19 AM
For once there comes a supreme court that works like it is peopled from sane society. At a time when you think everything good has been forgotten and only the bad is now in existence, hope rises from India. Thank God for the men who can stand on their feet and support their heads on their shoulders to bear their own names. However, the law minister should be clear where he stands. Presently he sounds like standing on the fence, or is afraid his masters from the west will chastise him with the cane if he did not speak from both ends of the mouth. Without necessarily being macho, men can still be men by simply making it clear where they stand on a matter, not to make it look like they are in when they are out. Kudos to India, and to all those who can still stand up to what is pure, natural and truth.
In Response

by: Jon from: United states
December 13, 2013 10:52 AM
People with closed minded shall be living out of space ....we are in time where homosexuality is now common as any other things...theres people straight people that commit real crimes and serious sins they should be punished not innocent men that decide to come out of the closet and live a happy life ....you all gays from india u have my support ...hang in there ...good always defeats bad ...the law ill change eventually . Good luck and my support to you
In Response

by: Devleena from: India
December 13, 2013 1:28 AM
You sir, are a narrow-minded god-fearing man with no respect for mankind. And seeing which country you're from, you seem thoroughly unemployed to comment on our affairs.
I'm surprised gay-rights is even an issue. Imagine two people in love and not in bed.
it's a pity our planet has such 'humans' roaming free and given the liberty of speech.
have a nice day, and mind your own country.
In Response

by: Jon from: United states
December 13, 2013 12:27 AM
Shame on u ..pure u call? Straight men having sex with women fornicating ,adutry , incest etc etc ...all human rece sin ..isnt the same to god ? Sin is a sin no matter what it is ..are you exempt of any sin ? Haha I dint think so ...ask god for forgiveness cause you sin too my man

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More