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Gay Sex Ban India: Supreme Court Reinstates Law

By    |   Wednesday, 11 Dec 2013 02:27 PM

A gay sex ban in India has been reinstated by the country's Supreme Court.

On Wednesday, the high court ruled that the colonial-era law could only be changed by the nation's parliament, thereby reversing a 2009 decision by a lower court that struck it down.

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The 1861 law carries a 10-year sentence for those convicted, describing intercourse between two consenting adults of the same gender as "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman, or animal," Reuters reported.

Considering that the Bharatiya Janata Party, a conservative Hindu nationalist group, is the favorite in next spring's elections, analysts say it is highly unlikely that the ban will be lifted in the near future, The New York Times reported.

Wednesday's decision was met with support and protests from Indians across the nation.



Anjali Gopalan, the executive director of the Naz Foundation, a Delhi-based NGO that works on sexual health and led the consortium of advocacy groups defending the 2009 judgment, told Reuters that the ruling is "a black day for us."

"I feel exhausted right now, thinking that we have been set back by 100 years," he said. "The Supreme Court has not just let down the LGBT community, but the Constitution of India."

Baba Ramdev, a controversial but popular Hindu spiritual leader, disagreed.

"The Supreme Court has honored the sentiments of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and those who believe in morality," Ramdev told Reuters. "Today they are talking about men having sexual relationships with men, women with women; tomorrow they will talk of sexual relationships with animals."

"These relationships are unethical as well as unnatural," added Dr. Ilyas in an interview with The New York Times. "They create problems in society, both moral and social. This is a sin as far as Islam is concerned."

Ilyas is a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.

One of the Indians who will be directly affected by the reinstatement of the law is Gautam Bhan, a 33-year-old consultant for a research center in Bangalore, who came out when he was 18.

"The vocabulary surrounding us was about pornography, but it became about dignity," Bhan told Reuters.

Though the laws against homosexuals are rarely enforced in India, there have been cases in which authorities have used the ban to interfere with the efforts of nonprofits handing out condoms to gay men to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS, The New York Times reported.

Despite this, gay film festivals and university campus groups have sprung up around the country.

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A gay sex ban in India has been reinstated by the country's Supreme Court.
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