The Union Cabinet on Thursday decided to play it safe on the issue of supporting the Delhi High Court judgment legalising homosexual acts between consenting adults, which has been challenged in the Supreme Court.
Not willing to be seen as being “pro-active” on the issue involving religious sensitivities, the cabinet is learnt to have agreed not to oppose the judgment, but left it to the Supreme Court to take a final decision on the controversial matter.
A report, jointly prepared on behalf of the Home, Health and Law ministries, was discussed at the meeting. The report had endorsed the July 2 judgment of the Delhi High Court, saying it had merely legalised consensual activity among adult homosexuals.
“The High Court has merely read down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code to the extent of decriminalising consensual gay sex, and has not struck it down,” the report stated.
“The Cabinet decided to ask the Attorney General to assist the Supreme Court in every way desired by it in arriving at an opinion on the correctness of the judgment of the High Court,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said after the meeting.
The watering down of the government’s stance was reportedly forced by some ministers, who were of the view that there was no need for the government to take an independent view and it should be left to the Supreme Court.
Most of the ministers agreed with Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy's reported contention that the government should wait till the Supreme Court gives its decision.
Reddy is learnt to have said the Court might take a view contrary to the proposed government stand, which could annoy a section of the society.
Another minister, Farooq Abdullah also raised his objections on legalising consensual gay sex, stating it will have adverse impact on society as whole, a source said.
The high court verdict has been challenged in the Supreme Court by various religious groups representing Christians, Muslims and a section of Hindus.
Similar concerns have been raised by Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, which has also filed the petition in the apex court against the judgment.
The court will hear the matter on October 1.