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Section 377 Verdict Live: RSS says homosexuality not a crime, but same-sex marriages against nature

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra unanimously decriminalised part of Section 377 of the IPC today. Follow live updates here:

By Bhadra Sinha and Ashok Bagriya | Sep 06, 2018 17:08 IST

The Supreme Court read down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, decriminalising consensual gay sex on Thursday.

In four separate but concurring verdicts, the bench headed by Chief Justice of India, ruled that the section failed to make a distinction between consensual and non-consensual acts.

“Any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates fundamental rights,” said Chief Justice Dipak Misra, as he read out the operative portion of the top court’s verdict that struck down Section 377 to the extent that it penalised consensual sexual relationship between two adults.

Here are the live updates:

5:07pm IST

Humsafar Trust takes out LGBT pride parade in Mumbai

The Humsafar Trust took out an LGBT pride parade in Mumbai after the Supreme Court legalised homosexuality. An activist with the Humsafar Trust said the change has come after 18 years of suffering and what the community has gone through in these 18 years could not be expressed in words. “Tomorrow when we wake up we would be able to look in the mirror and not see ourselves as a second class citizen or a criminal,” he told PTI.


3:56pm IST

Long overdue, says advocate Abha Singh

“Every person has the right to choose their life partner. By criminalising homosexuality, the state was impinging on the individual’s personal liberty and privacy, both of which are fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution. The injustice and discrimination that has been meted out to the LGBTQ community is abominable,” advocate Abha Singh tells PTI, adding that the decision to strike down Section 377 was long overdue.

“Justice Indu Malhotra has rightly said that we as a society owe them an apology for the stigma that has been associated with them. While the judgement is laudable and historic, for it to translate into reality, we require awareness campaigns and a receptive audience,” she added.

3:47pm IST

Verdict a tribute to those stigmatised: Transgender activist Laxmi Tripathi

“This verdict is a real tribute to those people who committed suicide or who were raped due to the stigma. This (judgement) has vanquished the cruelty that existed for a long time and has maintained the faith in the Constitution,” she said.

“This day will be remembered as a golden day in the history of the country and it is a tight slap on (the faces of) those who used to categorise human beings on the basis of their sexuality and were looking into others’ beds,” Tripathi added.

3:35pm IST

A whole new era of equal rights will begin: Activist Satya Benerjee

“This is a milestone that a particular community has achieved after a long, long struggle. A whole new era of equal rights for gay or lesbian people will begin. Thanks to the government and other parties as well, who kept a neutral stance,” says Satya Benerjee from Gay Bombay.

“This verdict will instill a sense of confidence among qualified and learned citizens of the country and stop the brain-drain,” he added

3:24pm IST

Verdict helpful for next gen of LGBTIQ community, says India’s first transgender college principal

Manabi Bandopadhyay, India’s first transgender college principal, says the verdict would be “helpful for the next generation of LGBTIQ community across India”.

“For me, the verdict is like getting a marriage offer after retirement. I am saying this from my life’s experience as I haven’t given heed to the previous law criminalising us,” Bandopadhyay.

“This is like independence from one of the many failures or struggles that we still face,” she says.

3:18pm IST

Judiciary has done it’s duty, we must do ours: Aamir Khan

3:11pm IST

Amnesty hails verdict

3:04pm IST

RSS says will not support same-sex marriage

RSS does not believe homosexuality is a crime, but marriages between same sex partners are against nature, says Sangh functionary Arun Kumar.

2:53pm IST

Today is a day of gay pride, dignity restored in India: UNAIDS

“Today is a day of gay pride, a day of celebration, a day when respect and dignity was finally restored in India for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people,” said Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “I applaud the brave activists, civil society organizations and community groups that have fought long and hard for this injustice to be reversed.”

Criminalisation of consensual same-sex sexual relations is a violation of human rights and legitimises prejudice and violence against LGBTI people. Criminalisation hinders people from accessing and using HIV prevention, testing and treatment services and increases their risk of acquiring HIV, the UNAID said in a statement.

2:47pm IST

‘Today an error has been corrected’, writes senior SC lawyer

“Today, an error has been corrected. I am very glad that the Supreme Court saw it be better to be ultimately right than to be consistently wrong,” writes senior SC  lawyer Sanjay Hegde. Read full story

2: 36pm IST

Long road ahead for changing societal mindsets: Petitionor

Balachandran Ramiah, a second petitioner, tells Reuters there was “a long road ahead when it comes to changing societal mindsets”, and stressed the importance of employers ending discrimination in workplaces.

“A number of companies up until now were unable to put these down on paper,” he says , referring to steps to end discrimination. “Now they can.”

2:25pm IST

We are no longer criminals, says petitioner Debottam Saha

“I’m so excited, I have no words,” Debottam Saha, one of the petitioners in the case, tells Reuters

“We are no longer criminals, (but) it will take time to change things on the ground - 20 to 30 years, maybe,” says Saha.

2:13pm IST

A celebratory judgment, says Soli Sorabjee

Former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee terms it as a “celebratory” judgment.

“How can you make it a crime on a person of certain orientation,” he asked and said that members of the LGBTQ community have the right to live a life with dignity.

“If it is a same-sex act, it should be between consenting adults (age where the person knows the consequences of his actions) and in the privacy of home, not in public. To make the consenting adults criminals is absolutely wrong,” Sorabjee said.

2:03pm IST

SC has opened door for complete equality: Mahesh Jethmalani

Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani told PTI the verdict has opened the door for complete equality for the LGBTQ community.

“The Supreme Court has opened the door and it has opened it quite wide. But there is still a long way to go,” he said.

1:56pm IST

Judgement will change political course, human values: Lawyer

Senior advocate Anand Grover, who appeared for one of the petitioners in the case, said the judgment has come on the expected lines. “It is a historic judgment which will change the political course and the human values,” he told PTI.

1:49pm IST

‘Pain and fear end today’, says LGBT community

Celebrations broke out across India minutes after the Supreme Court read down Section 377, as activists and LGBT people welcomed a verdict that affirmed their right as citizens.

Members of the LGBT community had gathered in various cities and outside the Supreme Court in Delhi since early Thursday morning, waiting for the judgment. Read full story

1:45pm IST

Bollywood hails SC verdict

Bollywood personalities on Thursday hailed the Supreme Court’s decision to decriminalise homosexuality, calling its decision on a colonial era law called Section 377 historic. Read full story

1:41pm IST

Still have to gain victory in society: Activist Ankit Gupta

“Today’s Supreme Court decision is truly historic. It says that the rights which are granted by the Constitution of India are enjoyed by LGBT community as well. It is a day to celebrate. We have won the legal fight, but in society we still have to gain victory, LGBT activist Ankit Gupta tells news agency ANI.

1:37pm IST

It’s a start, long way to go, says Anjan Joshi

Anjan Joshi, member of the Society for People, Awareness, Care and Empowerment (SPACE), says the landmark verdict would be help them in their quest for equality.

“It is a start. We know we have a long way to go in terms of right to adoption, right to marriage but it is a very welcome beginning,” Joshi said.

1:35pm IST

LGBTQ granted a basic right, says activist Anjali Nazia

LGBTQ activist Anjali Nazia says the Supreme Court has paved way for bigger judgements ahead. “We were granted a basic human right today and we can’t express just how happy we are,” Nazia tells PTI.

1:33pm IST

Sexual orientation is a matter of one’s choice: CJI

“An individual has full liberty over his or her body and his or her sexual orientation is a matter of one’s choice,” said Chief Justice Dipak Misra, while reading out the judgment.

“Time to bid adieu to prejudicial perceptions deeply ingrained in social mindset. Time to empower LGBTIQ community against discrimination. They should be allowed to make their choices,” he added.

1:27pm IST

Supreme Court says ‘history owes apology to LGBT community’: Top 10 quotes

Read the top quotes from the Supreme Court verdict on Section 377.

1:23pm IST

Landmark ruling by Supreme Court: UN

“Welcome today’s landmark ruling by Supreme Court. Sexual orientation and gender expression form integral part of individual’s identity the world over and violence, stigma and discrimination based on these attributes constitute an egregious violation of human rights,” says United Nations.

“The UN in India sincerely hopes that the court’s ruling will be the first step towards guaranteeing the full range of fundamental rights to LGBTI persons. We also hope that the judgment will boost efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination against LGBTI persons in all areas of social, economic, cultural and political activity, thereby ensuring a truly inclusive society,” read the statement.

“The focus must now be on ensuring access to justice, including remedy; effective investigations of acts of violence and discrimination; and effective access to economic, social and cultural rights,” it added.

1:19pm IST

‘A victory for individual liberty in India’

“This is a victory for individual liberty in India that is long overdue,” says Milan Vaishnav, director of the South Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC.

1:15pm IST

A new beginning: Hansal Mehta

Hansal Mehta, director of Aligarh, tweeted, “A new beginning. The law is gone. The Supreme Court has done what parliament failed to do. Now it’s time for attitudes to change. Let’s rejoice but let us also reflect. This is a new beginning.”

Mehta’s ‘Aligarh’ was a true-life inspired film about in Aligarh Muslim University professor Ramchandra Siras, who faced discrimination for being gay.

1:11pm IST

Kudos to the Supreme Court: Prashant Bhushan

1:06pm IST

This is the India I love: Sonam Kapoor

1:03pm IST

India a freer place for everyone, says Swara Bhaskar

12:59pm IST

Victory over prejudice, says Congress

12:56pm IST

DMK’s Kanimozhi hails SC verdict

12:53pm IST

A good day for human rights: HRW

“This is a good day for human rights,” Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director for Human Rights Watch said on Twitter.

12:49pm IST

SC stood up for equal treatment of citizens: Shashi Tharoor

“I’m pleased to welcome Supreme Court decision to decriminalise consensual acts of adults in private. In this country, we’ve allowed government to interfere in private lives of people to discriminate against people on basis of sexual orientation,but SC stood up for equal treatment of citizens,” Shashi Tharoor tells news agency ANI.

12:45pm IST

I am illegal no more, can live freely: Petitioner Keshav Suri

“I am illegal no more, would be no more in shadows, I can live freely. Hopefully now my marriage with my husband would be recognised here too. I would take the fight on,” says hotelier Keshav Suri, one of the petitioners in the case.

“I am very happy. Wanted to scream inside (the court). Those judgments were amazing . Court says judgement needs to be given wide publicity. Needs counselling across board,” says Suri.

12:41pm IST

Huge thumbs up for humanity and equal rights, says Karan Johar

12:37pm IST

Chennai celebrates verdict

12:33pm IST

Finally got justice: Activist Ashok Row Kavi

12:30pm IST

Homosexuality is a natural condition: Justice Malhotra

“Homosexuality is a natural condition,” Justice Indu Malhotra says. “This judgment will have a bearing on pending criminal case,” she says.

12:28pm IST

History owes apology to the LGBT community: Justice Indu Malhotra

Justice Indu Malhotra, the only woman judge on the bench, starts reading out her judgment. “History owes apology to the LGBT community. They were made to live a life full of fear report,” she says.

12:23pm IST

State has no business to intrude in personal matters: Justice Chandrachud

“No law can be divorced from constitutional morality, state has no business to intrude in personal matters, nor can societal norms regulate sexual orientation,” says Justice Chandrachud.

12:21pm IST

To move beyond decriminalisation is just the first step: Justice Chandrachud

“To move beyond decriminalisation is just the first step,” says Justice Chandrachud.

“Counselors need to adopt progressive skills to help individual families and organisations to understand the concept,” he says.

12:19pm IST

Constitution protects fluidity of sexual experience: Justice Chandrachud

“Constitution protects fluidity of sexual experience,” Justice Chandrachud says.

12:18pm IST

Denial of LGBT rights a denial of right to privacy: Justice Chandrachud

To deny members of LGBT community the full expression of right to sexual orientations to deny them right under constitution, its denial to right to privacy “

12:16pm IST

Attack on validity of Section 377 a challenge to discrimination LGBT have faced: Justice Chandrachud

“History has been witness to stigmatisation of those who do not live by societal standards. Attack on the validity of 377 is a challenge to discrimination they have faced,” says Justice Chandrachud.

12:14pm IST

Sexual minorities in India have lived in fear: Justice Chandrachud

Justice Chandrachud says, “So far, section 377 provided ‘rule by the law’ instead ‘of the law’.”

“Sexual minorities in India have lived in fear, hiding as second class citizens,” he says.

12:11pm IST

Justice DY Chandrachud starts reading his judgment

Justice DY Chandrachud starts reading his judgment. “Despite India gaining independence, Macaulay’s legacy (by the way of section 377) continued,” he says.

12:10pm IST

Celebrations in Mumbai

12:09pm IST

LGBT have a fundamental right to live with dignity: Justice Nariman

“LGBT have a fundamental right to live with dignity, such groups are entitled to protection of law,” says Justice Nariman. “The government should give wide publicity to the judgment ,” he says.

12:06pm IST

Govt probably saw the writing on the wall: Justice Nariman

“Union of India did not oppose the petitioners in the present case, probably government saw the writing on the wall,” says Justice Nariman.

12:03pm IST

Justice Nariman refers to Mental Care Act 2017

Justice Nariman refers to Mental Care Act 2017. He says it shows that the Parliament is also alive to the fact that homosexuality is not a mental disorder.

12:02pm IST

Bestiality to continue to be an offence under section 377: SC

Bestiality to continue to be an offence under section 377, says Supreme Court.

12:01pm IST

Section 377 subjects LGBT to societal barrier: Justice Nariman

Justice RF Nariman starts reading his verdict. “Section 377 subjects LGBT to societal barrier,” he says.

11:59am IST

Section 377 partially struck down

Section 377 partially struck down in so far as it penalises consensual sexual relationships between two adults.

11:56am IST

Section 377 had become weapon for harassment: SC

“Section 377 fails to make distinction between consensual and non-consensual acts... It had become a weapon for the harassment of LGBT and subject them to discrimination,” says Supreme Court.

11:54am IST

Discrimination on basis of sexual orientation violates rights: SC

“Any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates fundamental rights,” says Supreme Court.

11:51am IST

Social morality cannot be used to violate fundamental rights: SC

“The constitution is a living organic document... pragmatic interpretation has to be given to combat rigorous inequality and injustice ,” says the court.

“Social morality cannot be used to violate the fundamental rights of even a single individual. Constitutional morality cannot be martyred at the altar of social morality ,” says SC.

11:49am IST

LGBT possess equal rights as other citizens, says SC

LGBT possess equal rights as other citizens, says Supreme Court.

11:46am IST

Supreme Court of India decriminalises Section 377

In big win for LGBT rights, Supreme Court of India decriminalises Section 377.

11:43am IST

Privacy of human beings cardinal rule of our Constitution: CJI

“Privacy of human beings constitutes the cardinal rule of our constitution,” says CJI Misra.

“Make way for progressive realization of social and economic rights and to begin a dialogue for ensuring individual rights reports, have to bid adieu to perception stereotypes,” he says.

11:41am IST

CJI says ‘identity is pivotal to one’s name’

On Section 377, CJI says “identity is pivotal to one’s name”. In Constitution, the emphasis is laid on individual recognition, Dipak Misra says.

11:35am IST

Bench assembles, CJI starts reading verdict

Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra starts reading Section 377 verdict.

11:27am IST

Why must Section 377 be scrapped?

11:21am IST

The Supreme Court bench hearing the case

The bench comprises of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra. There will be four separate judgments by CJI Misra, Justices Chandrachud, Nariman and Malhotra.

11:13am IST

Don’t see how they can uphold Section 377, says petitioner Anwesh Pokkuluri

Anwesh Pokkuluri, another petitioner in the case, says: “Based on how the proceedings have gone, we do not see how they can uphold (the ban).”

11:06am IST

Mood is extremely optimistic, says petitioner Akhilesh Godi

“The mood is extremely optimistic: the judges have been extremely empathetic,” said Akhilesh Godi, one of the petitioners in the case. “It is not only about decriminalising but recognising our fundamental rights.”

11:01am IST

Centre’s stand on Section 377

The Centre, which had initially sought adjournment for filing its response to the petitions, had later left to the wisdom of the court the issue of legality of the penal provision on the aspects of criminalising consensual unnatural sex between two consenting adults.

It had said that the other aspects of the penal provision dealing with minors and animals should be allowed to remain in the statute book.

10:56am IST

What is at stake in fight against Section 377?

In India, activism against Section 377 began in the early 90s when NGOs and health workers, primarily working against HIV/AIDS, alleged that the law was being used to persecute them, and hamper the distribution of condoms. Over the next decade, activists galvanised support and approached the judiciary to strike down a law under which formal arrests are brutal but uncommon - the real life of the law lies in the daily extortion, blackmail and abuse that it enables, and the sense of fear and disenfranchisement that it begets in India’s LGBT citizens. Read full story

10:43am IST

How does Section 377 affect the life of a queer person?

10:31am IST

All you need to know about Section 377

The Supreme Court verdict expected today assumes significance as in the earlier round of litigation in 2013 the apex court had reversed the Delhi high court ruling decriminalising homosexuality or same sex relationship.

Successive governments have defended the archaic Section 377 IPC which is based on 19th century Victorian morality. But the intense debate in the society and the media appears to have forced the political class to change its stance. Read full story

10:15am IST

The petitioners

The Supreme Court had heard the writ petitions filed by dancer Navtej Jauhar, journalist Sunil Mehra, chef Ritu Dalmia, hoteliers Aman Nath and Keshav Suri and business executive Ayesha Kapur and 20 former and current students of the IITs.

Read: The 6 petitioners championing the legal right to gay sex