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

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease 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.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid