SC to revisit judgment on Article 377, seeks Centre's response

SC to revisit judgment on Article 377, seeks Centre's response

"The top court's judgment upholding validity of Section 377 appears to hurt the sexual preferences of individuals", said the three-judge bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud.

The measure says religious people can't be sued or penalized by the government for declining to provide services for same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Other petitioners, apart from Mr Johar, are journalist Sunil Mehra, restaurateur Ritu Dalmia and hotelier and art expert Aman Nath. Justice GS Singhvi and Justice S J Mukhopadhaya, who pronounced the verdict, justified its order by saying, "The High Court overlooked that a minuscule fraction of the country's population constitute lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgenders and in last more than 150 years, less than 200 persons have been prosecuted for committing offence under Section 377".

As many as 26 nations - Australia, Malta, Germany, Finland, Colombia, Ireland, United States, Greenland, Scotland, Luxembourg, England and Wales, Brazil, France, New Zealand, Uruguay, Denmark, Argentina, Portugal, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Canada, Belgium, Netherlands - have decriminalised gay sex. The LGBT community has argued the ban undermines fundamental rights as it fails to protect them.

The SC also issued a notice to the Centre seeking response on a writ petition filed by five members of LGBT community, who say they live in fear of Police due to their natural sexual preferences. "It reaffirms the Delhi High Court judgment in speaking of sexuality within the framework of constitutionality", Bhan said.

"This law that targeted LGBT people [and] privileged specific religious beliefs over others - that was a harm in and of itself", said Littrell.

The court referred the matter to a Constitution Bench and issued a formal notice to the Union government for its response on the issue. "Protection of children in all spheres has to be guided", the CJI said. Dating back to the 1800s, Section 377 criminalises anal and oral sex, referring to it as "unnatural sex", and states that it is "against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal". "It is an archaic provision which has no place in 21st century India", he told reporters.

"This latest punt on LGBTQ rights by the nation's highest court promotes state-stationed discrimination by upholding a law that allows hotels, ER doctors, business owners, and even pediatricians to legally deny services to hardworking LGBTQ families in MS", said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD.

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