Section 377: Supreme Court likely to hear petition by five gay personalities today
Filed by popular figures in the fields of culture, business and art, the plea says the colonial law violated their rights to sexuality and sexual autonomy.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday is likely to take up a petition challenging the Indian Penal Code’s Section 377 that criminalises homosexuality. The plea was filed by known figures in the fields of culture, business and art, all members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community.
Dancer Navtej Singh Johar, journalist Sunial Mehra, chef Ritu Dalmia, restauranteur Aman Nath and businesswoman Ayesha Kapur filed the petition. They said the law from the colonial era violated their rights to sexuality and sexual autonomy, as well as their freedom to choose their sexual partner. “Despite our achievements and contributions to India in various fields, we are being denied the right to sexuality, the most basic and inherent of fundamental rights,” the petition said.
In response to the latest plea on the matter filed in the apex court, Law and Justice Minister DV Sadananda Gowda said on Tuesday that the Centre had discussed the law with senior legal officers and will make its stand on the subject known in court, Hindustan Times reported.
While hearing curative petitions challenging Section 377 in February, the Supreme Court had agreed to re-evaluate its verdict from December 2013. The top court had dismissed a Delhi High Court ruling that decriminalised “unnatural” sex, saying that the law needed to be changed by Parliament. The top court had sent all curative petitions that sought a re-examination of the verdict to a five-judge constitution bench. A curative petition is a final appeal available against an original verdict. The bench has eight such pending pleas.
Section 377 dates back to the 1800s and was introduced during British rule in India. It criminalises anal and oral sex, referring to unnatural sex, as “against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal”. It also includes a maximum punishment of life imprisonment for “unnatural sex”.