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 Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf 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.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs