In a landmark move for freedom and individual rights, India’s Supreme Court has recently overturned nearly 150 years’ worth of anti-LGBT legislature by ruling to decriminalize gay sex. The colonial-era law, Section 377, had criminalized sexual acts that went “against the natural order” which primarily was aimed at homosexual acts.
This battle for LGBT rights in the region started as far back as 2009 when the Delhi High Court ruled that Section 377 and the subsequent ban on homosexual sex was a violation of the rights of the LGBT community. This ruling, which initially only applied to the Delhi region, was repealed in 2013 by the Supreme Court under the notion that the small fraction of LGBT within the country did not constitute a large enough population to justify a legal change. That decision was mainly spurred on by a coalition of Muslim, Christian, and Hindu movements against the initial decision.
This is only the beginning of the fight for their rights in India however. Note that this is simply a decriminalization rather than a full legalization, and there are many more battles to come to fully gain the level of rights seen comparatively in the West. Still, this was a hard-won victory in the name of individual rights and sets a massive precedence for not just further legislature, but for the region as a whole.
There are other rights that the LGBT community are still restricted or completely banned from such as rights of adoption or inheritance. Marriage is also likely quite a few years off from being an option for the citizens of India. A larger part in play as well is the social one. India still holds many socially conservative views on how people should act and what is and is not acceptable. The fight for the legal side is only one aspect; it’s going to be changing the hearts and minds of society at large to garner support and acceptance.
Read more from Killian Hobbs at Think Liberty here.