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India's High Court Topples 157-Year-Old Gay Sex Ban

India

The British Colonial-era law against gay sex is finally struck down, a huge victory for India's enormous LGBTQ population.

Nbroverman

A unanimous ruling by a five-judge panel of India's highest court on Thursday struck down a portion of Section 377, a colonial-era law that banned, among other things, intercourse among consenting same-sex partners.

Section 377, dating to the 1860s, has long been used as an excuse to discriminate and harass India's huge queer population; the nation itself has over 1.3 billion people (by comparison, America has approximately 300 million people). Section 377 also banned anal and oral sex among all Indians, but the rules against gay sex were more often enforced.

Chief Justice Dipak Misra read part of the judgment to the court, saying, according to the BBC, "Criminalising carnal intercourse is irrational, arbitrary and manifestly unconstitutional."

Another justice went even further, with judge Indu Malhotra saying "history owes an apology to LGBT people."

The BBC described the scene in India's cities as joyous, with activists planning to push forward with more advances, including laws against anti-LGBTQ discrimination and bullying.

Section 377 was struck down in 2009 by a court in the capital of New Delhi. Conservatives rallied and brought the case to the national court, which struck down the Delhi decision. Activists were undettered, bringing it back to the high court in 2016, which finally ruled against Section 377 on Thursday.

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Neal Broverman

Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.
Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.