Thursday, July 2, 2009

Activists welcome India gay ruling

Activists welcome India gay ruling .

Gay rights activists in India say a ruling by the Delhi High Court decriminalising homosexuality in the country is a landmark. The judgement overturns a 148-year-old colonial law which described a same-sex relationship as an "unnatural offence".
The ruling is a huge step forward. It is fantastic. I hope the government of India accepts the Delhi High Court decision. It has been an eight-year battle and I am glad it came through.
In one way it changes nothing - there are many gay couples in India anyway. In another way, it changes everything.
Till now we were considered to be criminals. If a gay couple wanted to buy a house together, it was not possible. No financial institute would even consider them.

Rights groups have long campaigned for a repeal of the law
I am not saying they can do this now but now we can start fighting.
There are gangs who target gays as they would not go to a police station for the fear of being booked themselves. Even some policemen are part of these gangs.
In Lucknow there has been an incident where even social activists working with MSMs (Men having Sex with Men) for HIV prevention have been detained by the police. And these incidents happen everywhere.
For me, most importantly people who are afraid to come forward will be able to do so. It is very difficult to reach out to HIV-positive people.
Also families who use this section to scare their children and get them married forcibly won't be able to do so.
This ruling will contribute in making society's attitude more positive. Cases of police harassment may reduce. I have seen people driven to suicide. I hope this decision gives more confidence to gay people to come out, be less afraid.
We are elated. It's a path-breaking judgement. It's a historic judgement, it's India's Stonewall.
I think what now happens is that a lot of our fundamental rights and civic rights which were denied to us can now be reclaimed by us.
The government has so far been pandering to narrow parochial groups, religious groups but the court order shows that India is ruled by constitutional laws and not by vote-bank politics.
It's a fabulously written judgement, and it restores our faith in judiciary.
We have finally entered the 21st Century. The government can't ignore this.
This is a long-awaited and incredible judgement.
The judges in their verdict spoke about inclusivity, equality and dignity. They spoke about a vision of India as an open, tolerant society and to hear all this from the Delhi High Court was amazing.
This legal remnant of British colonialism has been used to deprive people of their basic rights for too long.
This long-awaited decision testifies to the reach of democracy and rights in India.
British colonisers introduced Section 377 to India in 1860. It became a model for similar sodomy laws imposed on other British colonies, and comparable provisions survive today from Singapore to Uganda.
Most of the world's sodomy laws are relics of colonialism. As the world's largest democracy, India has shown the way for other countries to rid themselves of these repressive burdens.
I'm overwhelmed. It's great not to be criminalised for being a human being and what you do in your bedroom.
It is a historic moment for all of India. It has been a long fight. Now, one is not a criminal when anyway one was not in the first place.
It is a move in the right direction and I would go further to say that India is not a religion-run state and this decision is restoring dignity to a community that has been fighting for a long time.


Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay said...

INDIAN laws banning gay sex have been overturned in a landmark judgment in New Delhi.

The 150-year-old section 377 of the penal code, introduced when Britain ruled the subcontinent, described gay sex as "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" and imposed a 10-year jail term on offenders.

However, the High Court yesterday declared the laws were a violation of "fundamental rights" and unconstitutional.

The decision means consensual sex between adults over the age of 18 will no longer punishable, although the court ruled that section 377 should still apply to cases of non-consensual sex and pedophilia.

The court recommended the Government amend section 377 in accordance with its ruling. However, the Law Minister, Veerappa Moily, responded cautiously, saying he would study the judgment before commenting.

Last week the Government said it was open to a review of section 377 but warned it would consult widely before making any changes.

The ruling is a huge victory for India's gay rights movement which has fought hard to decriminalise homosexuality.

A petition, known in India as a public interest litigation, seeking legalisation of homosexuality was first lodged in 2001 by Naz Foundation, an organisation promoting sexual health. One argument put forward for decriminalising homosexuality was that it would help promote the prevention of HIV/AIDS in India. Activists say the outdated laws had driven infected people underground and hampered efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

The petition, opposed by the Government, was rejected by the High Court in 2004 but reopened after the Supreme Court directed the High Court to reconsider the petition.

Tripti Tandon, one of the lawyers who brought the petition, said she hoped the Government would not appeal against the decision and vowed to fight any attempt to reverse it.

Overjoyed gay activists said the judgment reaffirmed the liberal and secular nature of India's democracy.

"This is a huge milestone and a very emotional moment for so many of us," said activist Nitin Karani, from Humsafar Trust which promotes prevention of HIV/AIDS among gay men. "It's been a long fight."

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