Controversial law on homosexuality 149 years old | india | Hindustan Times
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Controversial law on homosexuality 149 years old

The controversial law on homosexuality goes back 149 years when Lord Macaulay introduced the section in the Indian Penal Code, which made carnal intercourse punishable, holding it was against nature.

india Updated: Jul 02, 2009 21:46 IST

The controversial law on homosexuality goes back 149 years when Lord Macaulay introduced the section in the Indian Penal Code, which made carnal intercourse punishable, holding it was against nature.

The Section 377 says, "Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine."

Commonly known as the 'anti-sodomy law' introduced in 1860, Section 377 witnessed an amendment in 1935 when the lawmakers broadened its ambit to include oral sex while it was restricted to anal sex in 1884.

In some of the the judgements in contemporary India, it has also been broadened to include thigh sex.

In a pathbreaking judgement, the Delhi High Court today legalised gay sex among consenting adults holding that the law making it a criminal offence violates fundamental rights. However, Section 377 which criminalises homosexuality, will continue for non-consensual and non-vaginal sex.

One of the earliest cases regardiong the controversial law in undivided India dates back to 1925 case of Khanu vs Emperor where it was laid down that, "the natural object of sexual intercourse is that there should be the possibility of conception of human beings, which in the case of coitus per os.

The law on homosexuality has always been a matter of heated debate across the world.

In Britain, from where India derived the law, King Edward VI went on to repeal the Buggery Act, an anti-sodomy law, a number of times in 1548 but 15 years later, it was reintroduced during the rein of Elizabeth I.

Denmark became the first country in 1989 to grant the same rights to same-sex partners as to married partners. Norway, Sweden and Iceland followed Denmark .

In most of Africa, homosexuality is illegal but in post-apartheid South Africa, gay rights were enshrined in the Constitution.

The Supreme Court in Nepal had declared in 2007 that all discriminatory laws against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders must be repealed by the government.

It also asked the government to make provision to recognise the third gender in terms of citizenship rights.