Indian Gay Rights Landmark

gayparade_3_630By Viswa Mohan
June 28, 2009

NEW DELHI: The government is planning to repeal the law that criminalizes homosexuality. The home ministry, which has consistently opposed any change in Section 377 of the IPC that treats private consensual intercourse between same-sex adults as a crime, now appears to have changed its stand.

Home minister P Chidambaram is learnt to have expressed an opinion that favours the repeal of Section 377 to his officials. This is in stark contrast to his predecessor Shivraj Patil, who doggedly refused to make any changes in the 150-year-old law, introduced in India by the British, and junked by the UK 40 years ago.

Law minister Veerappa Moily has already said that he is in favour of a ‘‘review’’ of the law, and the health ministry — the third key ministry whose assent would be required to amend Section 377 — has historically favoured its repeal.

Sources in the home ministry said that Chidambaram, will speed up matters by taking Moily and health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad’s “formal” view of at a joint meeting. The issue will also be discussed with state governments in order to ascertain their opinion, the sources added.

Officials believe that the government’s stand may change when it comes to the Delhi High Court, which is considering a petition challenging arrests under section 377, because of the law minister’s support for a “review”.

Although the court has already finished hearing arguments on the petition filed by the non-profit Naz Foundation in 2001, the matter can be taken up afresh.

A senior official said, “If there is a consensus over repealing the law or bringing some suitable changes to decriminalise homosexual relationships, the ministry can submit before the court that it has changed its position”.

Earlier, the home ministry’s position was that homosexuality is not accepted by Indian society and repealing the law would open the floodgates of delinquent behaviour. It also argued that this is the only law on the statute books that can be applied in cases of child abuse and male rape.

The health ministry, on the other hand, had argued that homosexuals are vulnerable to HIV/Aids and so the discrimination against them should end.

Home ministry is now waiting to see whether the new health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad favours his ministry’s earlier stand. A final decision will be taken after taking the consent of all in the proposed meeting. The meeting will also discuss bringing some new provisions which may deal with cases relating to child abuse and male rape in case Section 377 is repealed.

The meeting is being called in the backdrop of the prime minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention on the subject. He had directed the ministers to resolve their differences so that the government gets a cogent and uniform view on homosexuality.

The high court, too, had told the government to sort out its differences at the earliest.

This article originally appeared here.

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9 Responses to Indian Gay Rights Landmark

  1. The further demoralisation of India. Beam me up, Vishnu.

    • Section 337 reads, “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 term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

      It was established by the British, not Vedic India. It has absolutely no scriptural foundation and in fact runs counter to scripture on the subject of homosexuality. And with regard to homosexuality it was immoral to the extreme, devoid of compassion and common sense.

      • Jaya, Maharaja! Sometimes, due to the influence of Lord Caitanya, the effects of Kali-yuga are actually pushed back. An example of this would be the increase in the chanting of the holy names around the world, or in simpler effects such as an increase in vegetarianism or compassion toward gay people.

        I’m not sure when Section 377 will actually be repealed (this case has been going on for years) but hopefully soon. I think it will do alot to move India out of British Victorianism and more toward the original Vedic ideal, what to speak of modernity.

  2. Thank God for H.H. Swami BV Tripurari’s response. This is my first visit to this site, the first article I have ever read here, and if all of the comments had been like that of Dimmy’s I would have written it all off as more of the dogmatism and reactionary literary violence I find in many Hare Krishna internet circles. Compassion and empathy are virtues. Our words have consequences. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

  3. A few news articles on this issue. Delhi HC has supported gay rights in a historic judgment.

    And muslims have condemned this move.

    That is why atheists and secular people do more for gays than religious people.

  4. It will be interesting to see how much of a backlash there is regarding this judgement. Here are some more negative statements from various religious leaders in India:


    “This is a sad day for civilised society. It (the ruling) is not acceptable. They are playing with the future generations and civilised society,” said All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s Kamal Farooqi.

    “Scrapping such a law is not justified. This is an attempt to impose Western culture on Indian society,” Maulana Abdul Khaleeq Madrasi, pro-vice chancellor of Darul Uloom – India’s biggest Islamic seminary – told IANS on phone.

    An outraged Shahi Imam Ahmad Bukhari of the Jama Masjid told IANS: “This is such a dirty issue. I have decided that I will not even speak about it because if I do, it will be an insult to me and our belief. The government cannot dare to make this legal – when they do, we will react and talk then.”


    Gyani Gurbachan Singh, head priest of the Akal Takth – the highest temporal seat of the Sikh community – said: “We strongly oppose this high court decision. It is against the laws of the nature. We appeal to the Indian government to rethink the issue. We also appeal to the Sikh community to boycott this verdict as it is against the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib.”


    Ganesh Tripathi, a senior priest of Delhi Arya Samaj Mandir, said: “The Arya Samaj can never accept this. This cannot be applied to Hindu society or our beliefs.”

    “Homosexual acts go against nature. This (judgement) is wrong and just because a small section of society wanted this, the court has overlooked the majority’s views,” he added.


    “We have no objection or opposition to de-criminalisation of homosexuality because we never considered them criminals. However, we are also clear that we are against legalising it…because what they do is unnatural and against the design and will of God,” said Father Dominic Emmanuel.

    KCBC spokesperson Father Stephen Alathara said: “This (homosexuality) is against the Indian culture. We will oppose it and since our country is a democratic one, there is no way that this can be legalised through legislation. The church’s views will have to be sought.”

    It would be nice to hear some favorable views put forward by religious leaders in the media but I haven’t seen any yet!

  5. It is obvious that the majority can afford to oppose the move as majority of people are never from LGBT community. That is one of the downside of democracy, majority wins.

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