Poll | Should gay sex be legalised in India? | india | Hindustan Times
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Poll | Should gay sex be legalised in India?

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will review a decision over whether to uphold a colonial-era law that criminalises gay sex in a victory for homosexual rights campaigners at a time when the nation is navigating a path between tradition and modernity.

india Updated: Feb 02, 2016 18:14 IST
HT Correspondent
The Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to re-examine a colonial-era law that criminalises homosexual acts and makes them punishable by up to a decade in prison.
The Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to re-examine a colonial-era law that criminalises homosexual acts and makes them punishable by up to a decade in prison.(HT File Photo)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will review a decision over whether to uphold a colonial-era law that criminalises gay sex in a victory for homosexual rights campaigners at a time when the nation is navigating a path between tradition and modernity.

The apex court set up a five-judge panel to reconsider its 2013 ruling that only Parliament can change the 1861 law banning gay sex.

Section 377 of IPC -- which came into force in 1862 -- defines unnatural offences. It 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 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Tuesday’s decision is the latest chapter in a long-running legal battle between India’s social and religious conservatives and the gay community over the law passed by British colonial rulers in the 1860s.

Gay sex has long been a taboo subject in conservative India, where homophobic tendencies abound and some still regard homosexuality as a mental illness.