Still not okay to be gay: Supreme Court

Supreme CourtThe Supreme Court today refused to relook into its verdict criminalising gay sex in the country. A bench of Justices H L Dattu and S J Mukhopadhaya, in inchamber proceedings, dismissed a bunch of petitions filed by the Centre and gay rights activists against its December 2013 verdict declaring gay sex an offence punishable up to life imprisonment. In a big setback to the LGBT community, the Supreme Court had on December 11 set aside the Delhi High Court judgement decriminalising gay sex and thrown the ball into Parliament’s court for amending the law.

The judgement revived the penal provision making gay sex an offence punishable with life imprisonment in a setback to people fighting a battle for recognition of their sexual preferences. Seeking a stay on the operation of the judgement, gay rights activists, including NGO Naz Foundation, had said thousands from the LGBT community became open about their sexual identity during the past four years after the high court decriminalised gay sex and they are now facing the threat of being prosecuted.

They had submitted that criminalising gay sex amounts to violation of fundamental rights of the LGBT community. The NGO had submitted there are a number of ‘grave errors of law’ and ‘wrong application of law’ in the judgement which needs to be corrected. ‘This court has failed to consider the submission that Section 377 violates the right to health of men who have sex with men, since criminalisation of same sex activity impedes access to health services, including HIV prevention efforts. This contention was supported by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in this court,’ the review petition had said.

Amid huge outrage against the judgement, the Centre had also filed a review petition in the apex court seeking a relook to ‘avoid grave miscarriage of justice to thousands of LGBT’ persons who have been aggrieved by the apex court judgement contending it is ‘unsustainable’ as it ‘suffers from errors’. PTI