Supreme Court sets the Rainbow Free!

Decriminalises sex between consenting adults under Section 377, bestiality remains a crime

In a historic judgement, the Supreme Court of India has granted adult Indian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual (LGBTQIA) people the dignity they have always deserved… the right to love who they love and to not be punished for expressing that love sexually and privately. In doing so, the SC has granted all consenting adults the autonomy of intimacy.

The five judge bench lead by the Chief Justice of India pronounced four separate but concurrent judgments. CJI Dipak Misra read out his and Justice AM Khanwilkar’s judgment saying, “Section 377 so far as it criminalizes same sex or heterosexual relationships is violative of the Constitution.” He added, “View taken by SC in Suresh Kumar Koushal impermissible. Sexual orientation of an individual is natural and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a violation of Freedom of Expression.”

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Overruling the judgement in the Suresh Kumar Koushal case, the court said, “Section 377 of IPC insofar as it criminalises consensual sexual acts between man and man, man and woman or woman and woman is unconstitutional and struck down. Sex with animals will however remain criminal.”

All eyes were then on Justice DY Chandrachud’s judgement given how it was he who had opened a backdoor in the Privacy Judgement that in a way made it possible to challenge Section 377 again. He did not disappoint as he began by saying, “Constitutional morality and not societal morality will decide the validity of Section 377. Section 377 is unconstitutional!” Justice Chandrachud’s judgement was worded with sensitivity and compassion. He said, “What is natural and what is unnatural? Who decides these questions? People have challenged a long history of discrimination, which they seek to have remedied. Human sexuality cannot be confined to a binary existence.” He added, “It is difficult to right a wrong by history. But we can set the course for the future. This case involves much more than decriminalizing homosexuality. It is about people wanting to live with dignity.”

Justice Rohinton F Nariman also concurred saying, “Homosexuals are entitled to live in dignity. 377 in so far as it criminalizes same sex intercourse is struck down.” And Justice Indu Malhotra said what the community has patiently waited to hear for decades, “History owes an apology to these people and their families. Homosexuality is part of human sexuality.” She ruled, “They have the right of dignity and free of discrimination. Consensual sexual acts of adults are allowed for LGBT community.”

The entire SC Judgement may be read here: