India Supreme Court Hears Challenge to Sodomy Law

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India’s Supreme Court on July 10, 2018, began to hear oral arguments in a case that challenges the country’s colonial-era sodomy law. The same court in 2013 reinstated the statute, known as Section 377. (Photo by Legaleagle86; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

(WB) India’s top court on Tuesday began to hear oral arguments in a case that challenges the country’s colonial-era sodomy law.

The Delhi High Court in 2009 struck down the statute, which is known as Section 377. India’s Supreme Court in 2013 overruled the ruling.

Indian lawmakers in 2015 rejected a bill that would have repealed Section 377.

The Supreme Court in January said it would reconsider its 2013 ruling, which sparked widespread outrage among LGBTI rights advocates in the country and around the world.

LGBTI rights advocates maintain a landmark privacy ruling the Supreme Court issued last year bolsters their efforts to repeal Section 377. Reuters on Tuesday reported Mukul Rohatgi, who is representing the main plaintiff in the case, told the five judges who are hearing oral arguments that “as society changes, values change.”

“What was moral 160 years ago might not be moral today,” said Rohatgi, according to Reuters.

India is among the dozens of countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized.

British Prime Minister Theresa May in April said she “deeply” regrets colonial-era sodomy laws the U.K. introduced in Commonwealth countries. British Ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch last month told the Washington Blade nations that have yet to appeal these statutes should do so.

“We just urge all of our friends and partners in other countries around the world to move on as we have done to make their societies more open, more liberal, to embrace anti-discrimination in relation to the LGBT community as we have,” he said before the British Embassy in D.C. held its annual Pride month reception.


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