Metro Weekly

Indian Supreme Court refuses to change anti-gay law

Article 377 is a Victorian era remnant of when Britain ruled India

LGBT flags in Aluva, India - Photo: Nagarjun Kandukuru / Flickr
LGBT flags in Aluva, India – Photo: Nagarjun Kandukuru / Flickr

“This is a very colonial law, from the 1860s, that basically bans any sex that doesn’t result in procreation.”

–Openly gay Indian Crown Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, speaking with Out Magazine about Article 377 of India’s penal code. India’s most recent supreme court decision to uphold the anti-gay law is the latest setback for the country’s queer community. On Wednesday, judges declined to consider the petition against the colonial-era article.

“The supreme court refused to hear the matter and asked the petitioners to approach the chief justice of India,” Arvind Dattar, a lawyer for one of the petitioners, told Reuters. The nation’s top court has previously argued that only parliament has the power to strike down the article and India’s chief justice is already hearing a separate case to do away with it.

Article 377 is a Victorian era remnant of when Britain ruled India. It prohibits “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal.” LGBT Indians, including Prince Singh Gohil, argue that Article 377 undermines their basic human rights.

“This anti-sodomy law has definitely been an impediment to HIV control within the country,” the prince said. He also stressed that the law puts a strain on India’s economy as a developing nation. “India is in a lot of relationships with other countries where LGBTI issues are very openly discussed. If Indians have been denied their rights, how can you guarantee the security of foreigners coming into the country? If the government understands that more rights leads to more economic development, then they will come to understand the issues better.”

Although the article has been previously struck down, it was reinstated in 2013. The continued denial of removing Article 377 is not only a setback for LGBT rights in India, but is also extremely dangerous for queer Indians, toting a 10 year jail sentence for those who violate the law.

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