India's Sodomy Ban Incites 'Day of Rage' Among Activists

Both activists and lawmakers vow immediate action in response to the recent decision by India's Supreme Court to recriminalize same-sex relationships.

BY Daniel Reynolds

December 13 2013 5:05 PM ET

Lawmakers and activists are rallying in protest of the recent decision by India’s Supreme Court to reinstate the criminalization of homosexuality.

The Indian government promised immediate action on the controversial decision, which restored a colonial law that prohibits "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with man, woman, or animal.” India’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a lower court had overreached its powers in 2009 by declaring the antigay law, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, unconstitutional.

"We will have to change the law," Kapil Sibal, a law minister, told reporters. "If the Supreme Court has upheld that law, then we will certainly have to take firm steps. Change has to be made fast and any delay cannot take place. We will use all means available to make changes at the earliest."

Sibal added that, in terms of the government amending section 377, "time is of the essence. We must decriminalize adult consensual relationships."

The original sodomy law, which prohibits "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with man, woman, or animal," was enacted by the British in 1861 when India was a colony of the United Kingdom. In the wake of the decision, this sexual conduct will once again be punishable by up to 10 years in prison in India. 

In response, activists are organizing a “Global Day of Rage,” a string of worldwide protests that will take place Sunday. Events will be held in major cities like Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, New York, Cambridge, London, Boston, Sydney, Toronto, and more, so that “we make our voices heard. Loud and clear,” wrote the organizers on a Facebook page.

“This Judgment is not about any one community in any one country but about the hegemonic structures that oppress many across the world,” the statement continues. "It is a blow to the various other LGBTIQ communities across the world who might have taken strength from the Indian story to challenge laws/social norms/prejudices that criminalise homosexuality in their own countries.”

“It is time we begin to heal this lasting scar of colonialism. It is time we are given the space and freedom to pursue the work of fundamental social change which is made impossible with a law such as Sec. 377 of the Indian Penal Code choking us.”

Learn more about the “Global Day of Rage” on the group’s Facebook event page.

Tags: Politics, India

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