Sec 377 of IPC that criminalises gay sex may be scrapped: Gowda | india | Hindustan Times
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Sec 377 of IPC that criminalises gay sex may be scrapped: Gowda

India could abolish Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises gay liaisons and the legalisation of same-sex marriages could be considered, Union law minister DV Sadananda Gowda has said.

india Updated: Jun 30, 2015 12:00 IST
HT Correspondent
section 377

Union-Law-Minister-DV-Sadananda-Gowda-speaks-in-the-Lok-Sabha-in-New-Delhi-on-Monday-PTI

India could abolish Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises gay liaisons and the legalisation of same-sex marriages could be considered, Union law minister DV Sadananda Gowda has said.

However, any such move will require wide-ranging consultations, he said. A recent legislation on the rights of transgender people could provide a model for India’s gay community, he added.

“The mood appears to be in favour of it. But it can be done only after widespread consultations and taking all views into account,” Gowda was quoted as saying by The Economic Times.

Read: US legalises same-sex marriage, India has a long way to go

Gowda was speaking in the context of the US Supreme Court's historic verdict last week that legalised same-sex unions and the positive reception to the ruling on social media in India.



Gowda, later, denied the charges, adding that he was "misquoted".



Referring to a private member’s bill on the rights of transgender people, Gowda said it could be a model for the gay community. After several years of delay, the bill moved in the Rajya Sabha by Tiruchi Siva of the DMK received overwhelming response, he said.



“That bill has been passed by the Rajya Sabha (in April) and everyone supported it. If that bill is passed by the Lok Sabha and becomes an act, Section 377 will become irrelevant,” Gowda said.



The report described Gowda’s views as a “radical position for a politician” from Puttur in Dakshina Kannada district as the coastal belt is known for conservative social mores. The region is a stronghold of the Sangh Parivar, which has “strong and negative views” on homosexuality, it said.



In December 2013, the Supreme Court overturned a Delhi high court verdict that had set aside Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a law framed in 1860.



The apex court put the ball in the government’s court for decriminalising consensual sex among homosexuals, arguing it was free to annul the law through legislation.



The high court had ruled in 2009 that Sec 377 was unconstitutional.



However, Gowda’s minister's interpretation of the fallout of the legislation on transgender people appeared to be somewhat off the mark. Tiruchi Siva said he had limited his bill to the educational, economic, employment and health rights of transgender people.

“The bill does not talk about Section 377 or anything other than the rights of transgenders," he said. "I am always optimistic that rights of others will also get due importance."

Siva's bill is being pushed by three Lok Sabha members – Shobha Karandlaje of BJP, NK Premachandran of Revolutionary Socialist Party and Baijayant Panda of Biju Janata Dal. Karandlaje and Premachandran said Section 377 and gay rights was not on their radar.

They said they wanted to help transgender people but frown on lumping them together with lesbians, gays and bisexuals through the acronym LGBT.

"There is no question of (Section) 377 in our bill. I have very different views on unnatural sex. It is a totally different matter. I only want transgenders to get their rights and be treated on a par with others in the society," said Premachandran, the MP from Kollam in Kerala.

Panda said Section 377 was tangential to the bill though conferences were being lined up on legal and legislative action on the matter. Echoing Gowda, he said: "It is time for the debate on (Section) 377 to reflect what the Constitution guarantees for every Indian — which is equality."

He also said the private member's bill on transgender people may become infructuous as the government is thinking of bringing in a similar bill.

Read:

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