The Supreme Court turning the clock back and ruling that gay sex is a criminal offence yesterday came as a devastating blow for many, including 27-year-old Vivek Tigote.
The activist had resolved to reveal their sexual identity before his partner’s parents, and seek their permission to settle down together, expecting the apex court to endorse the 2009 Delhi High Court verdict that decriminalised gay sex.
“Now his parents would regard us as criminals, since sex between two consenting adults of the same gender is illegal, according to the law.”
A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court struck down the landmark Delhi HC ruling, which found that section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, prohibiting ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’, infringed the fundamental rights of citizens.
Bindumadhav Khire, convener of Samapathik Trust that works for the LGBT community, said that the verdict would have compounding effect on health issues faced by homosexuals, and cases of HIV are likely to rise, as NGOs would stop distributing condoms to groups working for the community, as the verdict has cast a shadow over the legality of same-sex relationships.
“Episodes of blackmailing, and seeking revenge from LGBT community members will go up, as henceforth homosexuality would be considered a crime,” added Khire. He, however, said that LGBT persons would raise their voice against this verdict by filing a review petition.
“Going ahead, we will are even likely to file a curative petition, which is advanced by a senior advocate to get relief against the final judgment of SC after dismissal of a review petition,” he said.
Rajesh More, who’s a transgender person, pointed out that due to the verdict, people would treat LGBT community members as outcasts, and those who are illiterate would again be drawn into the vicious cycle of prostitution.
“As the law itself assumes that gay people are criminals, they would automatically be shunned by society. With this decision, LGBT persons would not get many opportunities to work, which would impel them to go into prostitution,” said More.
2001: Naz Foundation files PIL in Delhi High Court seeking legalisation of gay sex among consenting adults
Sept 2, 2004: High Court dismisses PIL
Sept 2004: Gay right activists file review petition
Nov 3, 2004: HC dismisses the review plea
Dec 2004: Gay rights activists approach the apex court against the order of the High Court
Apr 3, 2006: Apex court directs the HC to reconsider the matter on merit and remands the case back to High Court
July 2, 2009: HC allows plea of gay rights activists and legalises gay sex among consenting adults
July 9, 2009: Delhi astrologer challenges HC verdict in SC. Later on, several others including religious organisations, rights activists and yoga guru Ramdev’s disciple have also opposed the judgement
Dec 11, 2013: SC sets aside the 2009 Delhi High Court order which had decriminalised gay sex
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.