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India: Decriminalise homosexuality, state must respect privacy and personal choice - Editorial, The Times of India

26 April 2018

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The Times of India, April 24, 2018


The renewed push to decriminalise homosexuality – more than four years after the Supreme Court judgment upholding Section 377 of Indian Penal Code – raises hopes of a positive outcome. In 2009, Delhi high court had ruled in favour of the personal choices and individual liberties of homosexual persons, but it proved to be short-lived with the Supreme Court upholding Section 377 in 2013.

The SC has since constituted a larger bench of judges to review its earlier decision in response to a write petition. It is pertinent to recall that the criminalisation of homosexuality is a colonial legacy we inherited from the British Raj through the Indian Penal Code drafted in 1860. While the United Kingdom has surmounted Victorian mindsets that frowned upon homosexuality and decriminalised it in 1967, countries like India on which such biases were imposed have been slow to reform.

The sexual choices of consenting adults and their right to privacy cannot be constrained by the state. More than 120 countries have decriminalised homosexuality while India figures among 70-odd countries that are yet to legalise it. While we rarely hear of homosexual couples being charged under Section 377, its very existence in the statute has a chilling effect on their enjoyment of their rights. Supreme Court’s right to privacy judgment was heavily critical of its own 2013 judgment and this raises hopes that a different outcome may be the offing this time.


The above editorial from The Times of India is reproduced here for educational and non commercial use