Govt presses Supreme Court to drop gay sex ban

December 21, 2013 - 7:00:23 am
New Delhi: The Indian government yesterday moved the Supreme Court seeking the review of its December 11 verdict holding that the homosexual relationships were an offence under the country’s penal code.

“Section 377 IPC (Indian Penal Code), insofar it criminalises consensual sexual acts in private, falls foul of the principles of equality and liberty enshrined in our constitution,” said the government’s review petition, which also sought the hearing be held in open court. 

The petition further said that the “Section 377 which criminalizes the intercourse ‘against the order of nature’ is a reflection of outdated sodomy laws of United Kingdom which were transplanted into India in 1860”.

“They do not have any legal sanctity and in any case are unlawful in view of the constitutional mandate of articles 14, 15 and 21 of the constitution,” it added. The review petition said that the apex court had earlier held that “a statute, which was justified when enacted, could, with the passage of time, become arbitrary and unreasonable”.

This was a reference to a part of the December 11 judgment where the apex court had ruled that courts were not “empowered to strike down a law merely by virtue of its falling into disuse or the perception of the society having changed as regards the legitimacy of its purpose and its need”.

Law Minister Kapil Sibal had yesterday said a review petition has been filed, adding he hoped “the right to personal choices is preserved”.

The apex court had set aside the 2009 Delhi High Court order holding Article 377 unconstitutional. 

“We hold that Section 377 does not suffer from vice of unconstitutionality and declaration made by the division bench of Delhi High Court is unsustainable,” it said, ruling on a batch of petitions challenging the high court verdict.

The July 2, 2009 verdict had held that “Section 377 IPC, insofar it criminalises consensual sexual acts of adults in private, is violative of Articles 21, 14 and 15 of the constitution, but said the provision will continue to govern “non-consensual penile non-vaginal sex and penile non-vaginal sex involving minors”.IANS

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