Britain on Thursday said it was “closely following” developments related to the Supreme Court’s decision to reinstate Section 377 of the IPC that criminalises same-sex relationships, and added that the December ruling of the court was “unexpected”.
Setting out concern over the issue, the Human Rights and Democracy 2013 report released by Foreign secretary William Hague said: “We are closely following developments on the Indian Supreme Court decision, which reinstated a law that criminalised homosexuality.
This ruling was unexpected”. The report added: “There has been widespread public criticism of the decision within India.
It is important that India’s democratic institutions work through this issue, taking account of the fact that to render consenting same-sex relations illegal is incompatible with international human rights conventions, including the ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights)”.
The report does not list India among the 28 ‘countries of concern’, but mentions India’s poor record on women’s rights, use of the death penalty and corruption.
Noting that in 2013, the Indian government took “positive steps” to improve the lives of women and girls, it said that “inequality, discrimination and domestic violence are still pervasive, particularly in India’s poorest states”.
The report said that India’s laws on crimes against women had been strengthened following recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee, but added: “(A) number of provisions under this new legislation carry the death penalty as a sentence so, while we welcome a tough approach for such serious crimes against women, we continue to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances”.
During 2013, the report said that the UK government continued to support women’s rights in India.