India strikes down ban on gay sex

India strikes down ban on gay sex
© Getty images

India’s Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling Thursday to end a colonial-era ban on gay sex, a decision that is being hailed as a turning point for LGBTQ rights in the country. 

The unanimous decision by the five-judge panel strikes down Section 377 of the penal code, a ban on sex that goes “against the order of nature,” which has been in place since 1861, according to The Times of India, which added that the court ruled that the ban is discriminatory and “violative of constitutional principles."

"Consensual sex between adults in a private space, which is not harmful to women or children, cannot be denied as it is a matter of individual choice," the court said, the newspaper added.

ADVERTISEMENT

The plaintiffs in the case challenging Section 377 argued that the law put them at risk of prosecution for being gay. At least one had been arrested, beaten and jailed under Section 377 after handing out condoms near a train station, according to NPR.

The ban was partially struck down in 2009 in one region of India, but after a challenge from a conservative Hindu astrologer, the Supreme Court reinstated it fully in 2013.

Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asia director for Human Rights Watch, praised Thursday’s decision as “a momentous step that will resonate around the world.”

Ganguly called for the dozens of other countries, including many former British colonies, with similar “discriminatory laws” to follow India’s lead.