New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday held consensual sex between adults of the same gender an offence, leaving the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community dejected.
Setting aside the Delhi High Court verdict of 2009, the apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhayay said there was no constitutional room for change in Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.
Section 377 of the IPC holds that same-gender sexual relationship is against the order of the nature and is an offence. The apex couyrt by its ruling Wednesday upheld the constitutional validity of the section.
The Delhi High Court by its verdict, which the apex court has now set aside, had decriminalised the sexual relationship between consenting adults of the same gender under Section 377.
Law Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters outside parliament: “It is the prerogative of the Supreme Court to judge the constitutionality and validity of the law. The opinion of the Supreme Court must be respected by the government. They have exercised their prerogative, we shall exercise ours.”
Gay activist Ashok Row Kavi said that with this verdict, “we are back to square one”.
“But we will fight for our rights. It is essential to note that this has nothing to do with morality and religion.”
“We are just asking for inclusive rights in the society. This is just a type of orientation a lot of people are involved in…,” he added.
Restoring back Section 377 under the statute book, the Supreme Court, referring to the Attorney General, said that the government could, if it so desired, amend the law.
The apex court verdict upholding Section 377 came 21 months after it had reserved its verdict in March 2012.
Activist Sohini Ghosh described the judgment as “not just a betrayal to the LGBT community, but a betrayal to the values that are enshrined in the constitution”.
“The only thing that I want to say is that fight will go on, and we will fight till the bitter end,” she said.
Pallav Patankar from the Humsafar Trust feels that the verdict is a big blow to the community.
“The Supreme Court has put the decision back to parliament, and the reason it went to the SC was because parliament refused to discuss issues related to alternate sexuality. There is a need to address the issue…,” he said.