India’s Top Court Again Upholds Law Criminalizing Gay Sex

Jan. 28 (Bloomberg) -- India’s top court again upheld a 154-year-old colonial-era law that criminalizes gay sex as it dismissed a review petition in a setback for homosexual rights in the world’s second-most populous country.

A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by H.L. Dattu today refused to review its December verdict that reversed a 2009 order of a lower court that had decriminalized same-sex intercourse between consenting adults.

The government and rights activists submitted that criminalizing gay sex amounts to a miscarriage of justice to the gay, lesbian and transgender communities. The top court in its December ruling had said it is up to lawmakers to amend the existing law if they want.

The court’s ruling comes as gay rights proponents around the globe struggle to achieve the same treatment as heterosexuals. While the U.K., France and Australia have taken steps to expand gay rights, Croatians in December approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and Russian President Vladimir Putin stoked international ire in 2013 by signing a law banning the spread of so-called gay propaganda.

Section 377 of India’s legal code, drafted by the British colonial rulers of the country in 1860, has drawn criticism from public health activists as a barrier in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pratap Patnaik in New Delhi at ppatnaik2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Sunil Jagtiani at sjagtiani@bloomberg.net