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India celebrates gay sex ruling with dance, chocolate and tears

08 September 2018

India's Supreme Court has decriminalised gay s3x in a landmark ruling.

"Private acts between consenting adults is something which no government should have criminalized as unfortunately we have done", he said.

While reading out the verdict on Section 377, Justice Rohinton Nariman, who was part of the 5-member bench in the case, pointed out that since the law came into force in 1861, less than 200 people have been prosecuted under Section 377. That the law must not discriminate is one aspect of equality.

Prosecution under Section 377 was rare, and mostly leveled only against gay men, but it was long used to blackmail, harass and sexually assault LGBT Indians, the New York Times reports.

The LGBT community celebrates outside the Supreme Court in New Delhi, India, after it scrapped a law that criminalizes gay sex, September 6, 2018.

"History owes an apology to members of the community for the delay in ensuring their rights", said Indu Malhotra, who was another judge on the bench.

Activists, members of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer) community, authors and politicians welcomed the verdict - which also said society can not dictate a sexual relationship between consenting adults - with many cutting cakes and unfurling the rainbow flag. "Therefore, Section 377 IPC in its present form violates Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution".

In four separate yet concurring judgements, the top court overturned its 2013 verdict which had re-criminalised consensual unnatural sex.

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The Congress hailed the SC verdict decriminalising consensual gay sex as "momentous" and said that it is an important step forwards towards a liberal and tolerant society.

"The Bangladeshi LGBT community has gained moral support", said Shahanur Islam, executive director of the Bangladesh Institute for Human Rights.

Sukhdeep Singh, a gay rights activist and editor of Gaylaxy Magazine, said the community still had a lot of distance to go "to be legally with your partner".

The Lalit hotel's Keshav Suri, one of the court's petitioners, entered the lobby to rousing applause, gave his husband a peck on the cheek and declared: "It is time to celebrate".

Lawyer Anand Grover, who was representing Naz Foundation against Section 377, talks to the media after the Supreme Court verdict.

The Supreme Court verdict is being cheered by millions across the country, far beyond the gay community, which has fought for decades for the right to be treated equally. That judgment sent shockwaves through the gay community, but also made them more assertive.

The other challenge that lies ahead for LGBT members will be with respect to acceptance in jobs and in family gatherings. "You can't change the mindsets of the people with the hammer of law", said Pandit Ajay Gautam of the fringe Hum Hindu group.

India celebrates gay sex ruling with dance, chocolate and tears