India’s Supreme Court Reviewing 1860’s Law Criminalizing Gay Sex

 

With a population of 1,252 billion, India is looking to change how 10's of millions of people will be having sex.  What's the change?  Making sex legal.

India's top court on Tuesday said it will review a decision over whether to uphold a colonial-era law that criminalizes gay sex in a victory for homosexual rights campaigners at a time when the nation is navigating a path between tradition and modernity.

The Supreme Court asked a five-judge bench to examine whether the 1860 law, which imposes a 10-year sentence for gay sex, is constitutional, a lawyer for a gay rights group said.

"It is definitely a move forward," said lawyer Anand Grover as activists gathered outside the court cheered.

This was the last legal avenue for campaigners seeking to use the courts to strike down the law. Otherwise, any future decisions to lift the ban will rest with the country's politicians who are largely conservative and oppose any changes.

The Supreme Court made a surprise ruling in 2013 that reinstated a ban on gay sex. That decision ended a four-year period of decriminalization that helped bring homosexuality into the open.After the hearing a group of gay rights activists outside the court sang: "We will be successful."Human rights group Amnesty International India welcomed the court's review, saying the law puts homosexuals under physical, mental and legal threat."The Supreme Court has another chance to correct a grave error," Amnesty said.

National surveys show about three-quarters of Indians disapprove of homosexuality and are deeply traditional about other issues of sexuality such as sex outside of marriage.

India is one of 75 countries around the world that outlaws homosexuality, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.

Although the law banning homosexuality is rarely enforced in India, it is used to intimidate, harass, blackmail and extort money from homosexuals, activists say.

There are no official figures on the number of cases and most go unreported as victims are too scared to report crimes to the police, fearing they will be punished too, activists say.

While the previous Congress-led government had pledged to repeal the law if it came to power again, it was crushed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party in general elections in May 2014.

In December, members of Modi's party, which has an overwhelming majority in the lower house of parliament, scuppered a private member's bill to scrap the law.

"It is about principles of freedom enshrined in our constitution," Shashi Tharoor, the opposition Congress lawmaker who introduced the bill, told Reuters.

"It's time to take the government out of the bedroom."

(Editing by Sanjeev Miglani, Robert Birsel) – reuters.com

If we believe 4% of a population is LGBT, we would see 50 million people being affected by this colonial law going away, a little over the population of New York State and Texas combined.

We wish our LGBTers the best of fortunes as we all await India's Supreme Court decision.

Is this a question of people relaxing their religious beliefs?  For the religious break down of India, click on the chart below.  We do see a declination in Christianity, but an increase in Muslims.

Was it shocking that 75 other countries outlaw gay sex?  It would be interesting to see how many of these countries did NOT outlaw gay sex before colonization and the spread of the two big world religions, Christianity and Islam.

But what about Hinduism?  I am not an expert and there are many resources out there to argue the Hindu stance.  Here is one.

Opposing Hindu Viewpoints on Homosexuality

Most of the debate on homosexuality within Hinduism is centered on these three teachings, and how proponents and opponents of homosexuality interpret these teachings.

Opponents of homosexuality argue that:

– Romantic love is only natural between a man and a woman, and it is impossible for two men or two women to experience the same form of love.
– Since romantic love is only possible between a man and a woman, sex between two men or two women can only be the product of lust, and lust is wrong; therefore homosexual activities are wrong.
– One of the three functions of marriage is Prajaa, the progeny for perpetuation of one's family. A homosexual couple cannot procreate, and thus cannot be married.
– Premarital and extramarital sex are wrong, and because homosexuals cannot marry, they should not engage in sexual relationships.

Proponents of homosexuality argue:

– Nowhere in the Hindu sacred texts is romantic love excluded to all but a man and woman, so there are no religious grounds to make a statement to the contrary.
– Since homosexuals can experience romantic love, homosexual sexual relationships are not all the product of lust.
– The three functions of marriage are given in the Dharma Shastras, books that are not binding to Hindus, and thus Prajaa is not a determining factor in Hindu marriages. Even if the three functions of marriage were binding in terms of marriages, Prajaa may be interpreted in a number of ways that do not involve procreation at all. Thus homosexuals should be allowed to marry.
– Sexual expression within a loving relationship is encouraged by Hinduism because it is not an expression of lust, but an expression of love and devotion to each others' happiness. Therefore, homosexuals in loving relationships (i.e. marriage) should be allowed to express their love sexually. – religionfacts.com\

We will keep our fingers crossed India.

Leave a Comment