The enigmatic Thomas Babington Macaulay is better known in India for his famous 1835 Minute on Indian Education, which called for an education system to create a class of anglicised Indians who will serve the Raj. But the credit for drafting the Indian Penal Code – including the controversial Section 377 – goes to him and the First Law Commission he chaired.
The first draft of the IPC was prepared by his Law Commission and submitted to the governor-general in India in council in 1837. It was largely a codification of the English law at the time and after a series of revisions, it came into effect in January 1862.
Law Commission sources told HT today that male homosexual acts were unlawful under a number of nineteenth century English statutes. Many men were persecuted under these laws, including writer-poet Oscar Wilde and legendary mathematician and cryptanalyst Alan Turing.
In 1957, the Wolfenden Report recommended that homosexual acts between consenting adults in private should be decriminalised. This became law in the Sexual Offences Act 1967, and the age of consent was subsequently equalised in 2001.
The sources added the current English law on sexual offences is contained in the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which does not distinguish between sexual acts according to the sex of the participants.
Same-sex civil partnerships have been recognised in England since 2005.
On Tuesday, the David Cameron government announced that following the passage of relevant legislation through parliament, the first same-sex weddings will be able to take place in the country from 29 March 2014.
As the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 had completed its journey through parliament, women and equalities minister Maria Miller said: “Marriage is one of our most important institutions, and from 29 March 2014 it will be open to everyone, irrespective of whether they fall in love with someone of the same sex or opposite sex.”
She added: “This is just another step in the evolution of marriage and I know that many couples up and down the country will be hugely excited that they can now plan for their big day and demonstrate their love and commitment to each other by getting married.”
Campaign groups in Britain had lobbied for same sex weddings for several years.