Most Sec 377 cases are of child abuse, not of consensual gay sex | india | Hindustan Times
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Most Sec 377 cases are of child abuse, not of consensual gay sex

A record 1,148 criminal cases were registered last year under Section 377 of the penal code resurrected by the Supreme Court’s 2013 judgement upholding the section that outlaws gay sex.

india Updated: Sep 13, 2015 21:47 IST
Morocco-a-conservative-Muslim-Kingdom-considers-homosexuality-as-a-crime-Reuters-File-Photo
Morocco-a-conservative-Muslim-Kingdom-considers-homosexuality-as-a-crime-Reuters-File-Photo

A record 1,148 criminal cases were registered last year under Section 377 of the penal code resurrected by the Supreme Court’s 2013 judgement upholding the section that outlaws gay sex.

But it turns out that the law was most often invoked to deal with child abuse, not consensual sex between adults of the same gender. Children were victims in 765 cases under the section in 2014.

It is not clear why the police still invokes the 1861- vintage law, though Parliament had already enacted the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act in 2012 to deal with child abuse.

One version is that many police officers were probably not aware about it. A police officer in Delhi — that records the highest number of Section 377 cases —suggested police officers were probably trying to play safe and invoking all sections concerned under the IPC as well as the child sexual offence law.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics, these figures mean gays were targeted in only 383 cases for consensual same gender sex.

So does this mean that fears of a crackdown on homosexuals after the Supreme Court verdict of December 2013 were exaggerated? At first glance, yes.

In its judgement, the SC had over-turned the Delhi high court verdict that knocked down section 377 from the statute. But 383 cases – a little over one case every month—is not such a small number when compared with statistics—200 prosecutions over 150 years—cited by the Supreme Court.

According to the NCRB’s Crime in India report, trial courts ordered conviction in 100 cases in 2014 — half of them relating to child abuse — while acquitting the accused in another 133 cases. As things stood on January 1, another 1601 cases were pending a trial.

Leading gay rights activist Ashok Row Kavi said that this section is most abused by the police to extort money from gays who haven’t come out of the closet. And then, there have been numerous cases of former partners trying to blackmail gays.