India Decriminalizes Homosexuality; Strikes Down Colonial-Era Law

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The Supreme Court said other aspects of Section 377 remain in force. A senior party member, Shashi Tharoor, said the "government has no space in bedrooms as this is a private act between consenting adults".

Chief Justice Misra had then remarked, "The question here is whether section 377 is ultra vires or not".

He also said that homosexuality can not be regarded as a mental disorder and gays have the right to live with dignity.

Justice Chandrachud ruled that "Members of the LGBT community are entitled, as all other citizens, to the full range of constitutional rights including the liberties protected by the Constitution" and that the LGBT people are "entitled to the benefit of an equal citizenship, without discrimination, and to the equal protection of law".

Observing that the Constitution nurtured dissent as a "safety valve" of society, he said "we cannot change the history but can pave a way for better future".

Activists and well-wishers outside jumped for joy while waving gay pride flags and placards reading "Love Wins" and "LGBT rights are human rights".

The apex court noted that India is a signatory of global treaties on rights of LGBTQ and it was obligatory to adhere to them.

"Courts do not give advance rulings on issues that are not before it".

Seeking decriminalisation of consensual homosexuality, the NGO Naaz Foundation had first challenged Section 377 in the Delhi High Court in 2001.

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This was overturned in 2013 by the apex court which also dismissed the review plea against which the curative petitions were filed. "Criminalising carnal intercourse under section 377 Indian penal code is irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary", said Chief Justice, Dipak Misra.

Even as the community celebrates, it will have to gear up for other battles, said another gay rights activist, Ruth Chawngthu."A lot of people think that this is the end and everyone is going to have rights now, marriage, equality and whatever, but this not the end, this is just the beginning and we have a long way to go".

"It is a start".

"We are finally not criminals and this minuscule minority has an identity now", is how gender and sexuality rights activist Arpit Bhalla put it.

The law, while in existence, called for a maximum sentence of life in prison if one were caught taking part in homosexual acts.

"Supreme Court verdict on Section 377 is momentous".

Sparks says the court ruling will not impact how India Partners presents the gospel in India and will focus on teaching God's commands knowing it impacts the church and the community because Christians can be a model for the community.

The Supreme Court verdict is being cheered by millions across the country, far beyond the gay community, which has fought for decades for the right to be treated equally.