In a landmark judgment, Homosexuality is no longer a crime in India, five Supreme Court judges today ruled in a consensus judgement. In a powerful worded verdict, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said: “I am what I am. So take me as I am.”
The Supreme Court overruled it’s own 2013 decision and said Section 377, a controversial British-era ban on consensual gay sex, is irrational, indefensible and arbitrary.”Section 377″ banned “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal” — which was interpreted to refer to homosexual sex. Under the 1861 law, gay sex was punishable by up to 10 years in jail.
The ban was challenged by 5 high profile petitioners who said they were living in fear of being punished.The petitioners are, Bharatnatyam dancer Navtej Singh Johar, journalist Sunil Mehra, restaurateur Ritu Dalmia, Neemrana hotel chain co-founder Aman Nath and businesswoman Ayesha Kapur.
The Chief Justice said: “Respect for individual choice is the essence of liberty; the LGBT community possesses equal rights under the constitution. Sexual orientation is a biological phenomenon; any discrimination on these grounds is violative of fundamental rights. No one can escape from their individuality.”
The historic judegement was peppered with epochal quotes that called for a shift in the society and attitudes. “We have to bid adieu to prejudices and to empower all citizens,” the Chief Justice said. Homosexuality, said the judges, is not a mental disorder.
Activists have been fighting the ban since the 1990s, suffering several court reverses before the verdict today that sparked celebrations among lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender groups across the country.