Thursday, July 2, 2009

Delhi High Court Curtails Sodomy Law

"Times are changing for the better"

Today the High Court of Delhi at New Delhi sharply limited Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. Section 377, which prohibits "carnal intercourse" and has come to be known as the "unnatural offences" section, was facially neutral but in practice targeted LGBT persons. The Court held it unconstitutional insofar as it criminalized consensual sex acts between adults in private. In closing, the Court wrote:

"If there is one constitutional tenet that can be said to be
underlying theme of the Indian Constitution, it is that of
'inclusiveness'. This Court believes that Indian Constitution
reflects this value deeply ingrained in Indian society,
nurtured over several generations. The inclusiveness that
Indian society traditionally displayed, literally in every
aspect of life, is manifest in recognising a role in society for
everyone. Those perceived by the majority as “deviants' or
'different' are not on that score excluded or ostracised.
"Where society can display inclusiveness and understanding,
such persons can be assured of a life of dignity and non-
discrimination. ... In our view, Indian
Constitutional law does not permit the statutory criminal law
to be held captive by the popular misconceptions of who the
LGBTs are. It cannot be forgotten that discrimination is anti-
thesis of equality and that it is the recognition of equality
which will foster the dignity of every individual."

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