See More on Facebook


Will India’s top court decriminalise anti-LGBT law?

India’s LGBT community was outraged when a landmark ruling decriminalising homosexual acts was reversed in 2013 – the constitutional validity of this colonial-era law is being re-examined.

Written by

Updated: July 13, 2018

India’s top court, which is hearing a clutch of petitions challenging the validity of a British-era law that bans homosexual acts, has raised the hopes of the country’s LGBT community once again.

India’s LGBT community was outraged when the Supreme Court reversed a landmark 2009 Delhi High Court ruling in December 2013 that decriminalised homosexual acts.

In January this year, the Supreme Court said a larger bench would revisit and examine the constitutional validity of Section 377.

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) is a 153-year-old law which states that a same-sex relationship is an “unnatural offence” and punishable by a 10-year term. Often this law is used to intimidate, blackmail and extort money from the LGBT community.

The five-judge bench, headed by the Chief Justice of India, began hearing the petitions on July 10. A day earlier, the court had rejected the Indian government’s plea for adjourning a scheduled hearing.

The top court recently ruled that privacy is a fundamental right, raising expectations that the panel will overturn the law criminalising consensual sexual relations between adults of the same sex.

Homosexual acts are illegal not just in India but also the religiously conservative subcontinent – Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh – are all against same-sex relations.

The Hearing

On day three of the hearings, the apex court observed that once Section 377 is decriminalised, the stigma attached to the LGBT community will also go.

“Over the years, we have created an environment in Indian society which has led to deep-rooted discrimination against people of the same sex involved in a consensual relationship and this has impacted their mental health also,” the bench said on July 12.

The court rejected a demand for a referendum over the constitutional validity of Section 377 saying it would not go by majority opinion but be governed by constitutional morality.

“We do not decide constitutional issues by conducting a referendum. We follow the concept of constitutional morality and not majority morality,” the bench told a lawyer favouring retention of Section 377.

The Indian government said it would not take a stand on the validity of Section 377, but leave the decision to the wisdom of the apex court.

During the first two days of the hearing, the petitioners argued that Section 377 was the result of a Victorian-era morality and that it should be struck down immediately.

Around 2.5 million Indians identify as gay. This data is not inclusive as it takes into account only those who have declared their sexuality to the health ministry.

In 2015, 1,347 cases were lodged under Section 377. In 814 of them, the victims were children, according to National Crime Records Bureau data quoted by Al Jazeera.

The change in law will help ameliorate the condition of the transgender community, too, which is often forced into sex work. In April 2014, the Supreme Court recognised the community as a legal third gender.

The advancing of arguments remained inconclusive on July 12 and would resume on July 17. However, there is a good chance that consensual homosexual sex may once again be decriminalised.

Enjoyed this story? Share it.

Lamat R Hasan
About the Author: Lamat is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia

Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here


HK bans political group, citing its separatist views

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government said on Monday it has banned a separatist group that advocates independence. Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu, who made the decision, said the ban on the “Hong Kong National Party” was in accordance with the Societies Ordinance. The ban on the HKNP, effective immediately, was made in the interests of national security, public safety, public order and the protection of the rights and freedoms of others, Lee said. What the HKNP aims to do contravenes the Basic Law and undermines national security, the security chief said. The secretary for security is vested with the power to issue an order to prohibit the operation or continued operation of a society if it violates stipulations in the Societies Ordinance. To achieve its goal of splitting Hong Kong from the country, the HKNP has repeatedly called for the “use of

By Cod Satrusayang
September 26, 2018


Climate Change: Four years is all we have

Grim reports on climate change say act now or be ready for catastrophe. Humanity has only about four years left to stabilise global temperatures and save the world from environmental catastrophe stemming from extreme climate change, scientists have warned. After negotiations at this month’s Bangkok Climate Change Conference ended in failure, the world’s leading scientific agencies, the United Nations and environmentalists are urging governments to show greater determination. They want to see more ambitious action to rapidly de-carbonise the global economy and stabilise the temperature at the safest possible level of 1.5 degrees Celsius. They also identified Southeast Asia as a strategic area in the mission to reverse climate change, calling the region not only a major front in the battle against the spreading use of fossil fuels but also one of the locales most vulnerable to the detrimental impacts.An anal

By The Nation (Thailand)
September 17, 2018


Trade spat perils put spotlight on need for effective strategies

Chinese experts discuss global trade tensions and policy options to ensure smooth growth of economy. Short-term challenges from the escalating trade spat with the United States have reassured Chinese officials and experts of the need to support market-oriented reform and opening-up, with a particular focus on reducing debt and limiting government intervention. That was the consensus reached by participants at a high-level forum on Sunday, during which policymakers and advisers from home and abroad gathered in Beijing. They discussed global trade tensions and policy options that would ensure smooth growth of the Chinese economy. Reforms should strengthen the market’s decisive role in resource allocation, optimize State-owned enterprises and reduce or eliminate direct subsidies for some industries, said Yang Wei­min, former deputy director of the Office of the Central Leading Group on Financ

By China Daily
September 17, 2018


Typhoon Mangkhut leaves behind trail of death and destruction

After killing 64 in the Philippines and pummelling Hong Kong and Macau, the mightiest storm of the year is wreaking havoc in China. Massive landslides killed 64 people while 45 others were missing in this city and in the provinces of Benguet, Mountain Province, Kalinga and Nueva Vizcaya, as Typhoon “Ompong” (international name: Mangkhut) unleashed its fury on Friday night and early Saturday, the Philippine National Police said on Sunday. The PNP said 33 people were injured in the massive storm. The hardest hit province was Benguet, where most of those who died perished in landslides, the PNP said. Power and communication lines were toppled, but some were restored late Sunday in parts of the mountain city and in provinces that were in the path of Ompong as it exited the country on Saturday night. As of 3 p.m. on Sunday, the typhoon was spotted 935 kilometers west-northwest of northern L

By Philippine Daily Inquirer
September 17, 2018


I am not impatient to become Prime Minister, says Anwar Ibrahim

Parti Keadilan Rakyat president says relationship with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad amicable. Anwar Ibrahim said he has no ulterior motive nor is impatient to be Malaysia’s next Prime Minister. in contesting the Port Dickson seat, but instead wants to help reform Parliament. The Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president said: “My relationship with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad is amicable and I don’t harbour any adverse notion when I decided to contest in a by-election.” Mr Anwar said he had already expressed his intention to contest two weeks ago. “My aim is to make an inroad into Parliament and help my junior peers in drafting policies and legal frameworks for the benefit of the people,” he said when addressing his party members at the Melaka International Trade Centre at Ayer Keroh on Thursday (Sept 13) night. Mr Anwar said he does not m

By The Straits Times
September 14, 2018


Beijing, Moscow vow to reinforce military relations

The two nations will continue their military cooperation and explore new possible ways to boost their combat abilities. China and Russia vowed to further deepen military ties and improve their troops’ combat abilities to respond to various security threats, as they formally concluded the “Vostok-2018” strategic drills with a military parade on Thursday. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe inspected the troops at the Tsugol training range in Russia’s Trans-Baikal region, where the exercise was held. Wei said the drills reflect China and Russia’s confidence and determination to jointly safeguard regional peace and security, and the exercise enhances the two militaries’ ability to respond to multiple security threats. The two sides should further strengthen their strategic cooperation and continu

By China Daily
September 14, 2018