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Section 377 and the law: What courts have said about homosexuality over time

The Delhi High Court decriminalised gay sex in 2009 but its judgment was overturned by the Supreme Court. Last year, the top court said it will review its order. Here’s a timeline of Section 377 in the courts.

india Updated: Feb 05, 2018 07:15 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Section 377,homosexuality,Section 377 timeline
LGBT activists protest in New Delhi on December 15, 2013 after the Supreme Court's set aside the Delhi high court’s order scrapping Section 377.(Washeem Gashroo/ HT Photo)

The Delhi High Court decriminalised gay sex in 2009 but its judgment was overturned by the Supreme Court. Last year, the top court said it will review its order. Here’s a timeline of Section 377 in the courts:

2001: A Delhi-based NGO, Naz Foundation, files a public interest litigation in the Delhi High Court challenging Section 377.

September 2004: High court dismisses the PIL, saying Naz Foundation has no locus in the case.

December 2004: Activists approach the Supreme Court against high court’s order.

April 2006: The Supreme Court directs the high court to reconsider the matter on merit.

September 2008: Centre seeks more time to take stand after contradictory statements by the home ministry, which backs Section 377 and health ministry, which admits law is hampering fight against HIV/AIDS. Later that month, Centre says “gay sex” is immoral.

October 2008: High court pulls up the Centre for relying on religious texts and asks it to come up with a stand based on scientific reports.

July 2009: High court reads down Section 377 to remove consensual same-sex acts in private from its purview.

December 2013: Supreme Court sets aside the Delhi high court order, asks Parliament to come up with law.

January 2014: Supreme Court dismisses a central government petition seeking a review of its verdict.

January 2016: Supreme Court agrees to hear a curative petition — the last available judicial recourse — in open court.

June 2016: Supreme Court refers a petition filed by five well-known members of the LGBT community to the Chief Justice for “appropriate orders”.

August 2017: Supreme Court passes landmark ruling declaring individual privacy a guaranteed fundamental right and calling sexual orientation an “essential attribute” of privacy.

January 2018: Supreme Court refers Section 377 to a larger bench of the court, saying its 2013 decision requires reconsideration.

First Published: Feb 05, 2018 07:14 IST