Section 377

India is an LGBT Friendly Country now! Look at the timeline of Section 377 from introduction in 1861 till abolishment today

 

The 20+ years long drama surrounding the age old section 377 of the Indian Penal Code came to an end today with the Supreme Court decriminalising homosexuality. According to the law, which was put in place 150 years ago by the British, “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Supreme Court struck down the clauses of Section 377 that criminalised consensual sex between adults. However, sexual activity with animals will remain criminal.

While this decision happened today, the Section 377 has been a subject of legal and parliamentary debate for several years now.

Here’s a timeline of the section:

1861: The section was introduced during the British rule of India and it criminalised sexual activities “against the order of nature”, including homosexual activities.

1994: A report was presented by an NGO, AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan (ABVA), on the violence, extortion and abuse faced by gay people, especially by the police. The NGO also filed a writ petition demanding the section to be declared as unconstitutional.

2001: An NGO called Naz foundation filed a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the constitutionality of the section and called for legalisation of homosexuality.

2004: The Delhi High Court dismissed the case.

2006: A coalition of NGOs called Voices against 377 joined hands in appealing the case in the Supreme Court.

2009: In a landmark decision, the Delhi High Court decided to strike down the section, terming it unconstitutional and saying it violates fundamental rights.

2013: The apex court overturned Delhi High Court’s judgement, stating “does not suffer from the vice of unconstitutionality and the declaration made by the division bench of the high court is legally unsustainable.”

2015: Shashi Tharoor tried to introduce a private member’s bill against the Section 377 in the parliament. This was voted against by the members of the Lok Sabha.

2016: The final hearing of the Naz foundation’s petition took place where a three member bench of the SC said that all the pleas will be reviewed by a 5 member constitutional bench.

2017: SC stated that right to privacy is a fundamental right, and said “Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy. Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual.”

January 2018: SC bench headed by CJI Deepak Mishra said the 2013 ruling had to be reconsidered, giving hope for those fighting against the section 377.

July 2018: The SC said it is up to the bench to take a call on the 150 year old section.

September 6 2018: The apex court decriminalised homosexuality.