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India Seeks Reversal in Gay Ban Ruling

A group of Indian activists hold a banner against section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalizes homosexuality during a protest in Mumbai, India, Dec. 11, 2013.
India's government has asked the country's highest court to reconsider its recent ruling upholding the criminalization of homosexual sex.

New Delhi filed the plea Friday with the Supreme Court.

Earlier last week, the top court revived a colonial-era law making gay sex an offense punishable by life imprisonment.

After the ruling came down on December 11, homosexuals and gay rights activists in several Indian cities took their anger and anguish to the streets to protest against the verdict. Large rallies were held on December 15, drawing protesters from all levels of society.

“They [the judiciary] should not take away our rights. If we like someone, want to live with them then they should let us be,” said Bobby Dey, who was among those protesting the ruling Kolkata.

On the day, protesters took to the roads with rainbow-colored banners and posters to denounce the top court's judgment, observing the phase as the darkest in Indian judiciary.

“We are all here today, all the minority, as well as the mainstream population of Calcutta. Everyone has joined hands to stand for human rights and to stand against Section 377, which is against human rights in all respects,” said a protester, Shalini Bhattacharya.

On the same day, the southern city of Chennai also witnessed protests as people staged a march, carrying banners and shouting slogans, to express their dismay.

The LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community faces a social stigma in India, where hugging and kissing in public even among heterosexual couples is strongly frowned upon.

For most of the India's 2.5 million gays, strong religious and family values mean many homosexuals choose to hide their sexuality for fear of discrimination, while attacks by police, especially in rural areas, are common.

However, the open support being presented by a large chunk of the society after the Supreme Court ruling is being seen as a progressive step in a traditional country like 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 organization, which fought a legal battle for almost a decade.

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

Some information in this report was contributed by Reuters.