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Gay rights: HC says public morality an issue

The Delhi High Court observes that legalising of homosexuality faced stiff objection, as “public morality” is a high priority in our country, reports Harish V Nair.

delhi Updated: Sep 26, 2008 00:45 IST
Harish V Nair

The Delhi High Court on Thursday observed that legalising of homosexuality faced stiff objection, as “public morality” was a high priority in our country.

“In India, public morality is an aspect and reasonableness is only a second aspect…It is difficult to change the way the society thinks”, remarked a bench of Justice AP. Shah and Justice S Muralidhar.

Gay rights activists had contended before the court, hearing a PIL seeking scrapping of section 377 (punishment for indulging in unnatural sex) that the government cannot infringe upon their fundamental right to equality by decriminalising homosexual acts on the ground of morality.

“The Constitution gives fundamental right to equality and it prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. But these rights of 25 lakh homosexuals in the country are being violated,” Advocate Shyam Diwan, appearing for gay rights activists.

“Moral argument cannot triumph over the constitutional rights in a democratic society where fundamental rights prohibit any discrimination on the ground of sex,” Diwan said adding that gays in the country don't have full "moral" citizenship and they are being treated as second class citizens.