Supreme Court Hearings Begin On Section 377, Criminalisation Of Homosexuality

| July 10 , 2018 , 11:46 IST

At a time when the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community is becoming recognised worldwide, homosexuality is still legally a crime in India, even between consenting adults, due to Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday began hearings on multiple pleas challenging the re-criminalisation of consensual homosexual sex between two adults. Despite the centre requesting a delay of 4 weeks to the hearings, the apex court on Monday had announced that there would be no delay in beginning the hearings.  

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The Delhi High Court had decriminalised homosexual relations between two consenting adults in 2009, however, the Supreme Court in 2013 re-criminalised relations between people of the same sex, spurring multiple petitions to the apex court.  

The 149-year-old Section 377 law criminalises unnatural offences and carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, regardless of consent. Violating Section 377 is punishable with fine and/or imprisonment ranging from 10 years to life.

A newly-constituted five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and comprising of Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra will be hearing the petitions challenging Section 377 of the IPCC.

Petitions challenging criminalisation of homosexual sex were filed by eminent citizens, IIT alumnis, LGBT rights activists Arif Jafar and Ashok Row Kavi, and NGOs Naaz Foundation and Humsafar Trust.

In response to the pleas, the Supreme Court in January this year referred the matter to a 5-judge constitution bench, saying that people who exercise their choice should never "remain in a state of fear". It also said that the determination of the 'order of nature' was not constant as social morality changed from age to age.