Is homosexuality a crime? SC to deliver verdict on Section 377 tomorrow

the asian age

India, All India

The verdict is expected to be a landmark judgement with gay rights activists believing that SC will strike down section 377.

During the hearings, the Supreme Court had observed that stigma attached to ‘gay sex’ will be removed once the ‘criminality attached to Section 377 of the IPC goes. (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will pronounce its much-awaited verdict on petitions challenging the validity of Section 377 that criminalises homosexuality tomorrow.

The verdict is expected to be a landmark judgement with gay rights activists believing that the top court will strike down section 377.

The apex court had reserved its verdict in July, after a five-judge constitution bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices Rohinton Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, held marathon hearings.

During the hearings, the Supreme Court had observed that stigma attached to ‘gay sex’ will be removed once the ‘criminality attached to Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) goes.

The Centre, which had initially sought the adjournment for filing its response to the petitions, had later left to the wisdom of the court the issue of legality of the penal provision with regard to the aspects of criminalising consensual unnatural sex between two consenting adults.

The ban on gay sex has been challenged by five high-profile petitioners -- classical dancer Navtej Jauhar, journalist Sunil Mehra, chef Ritu Dalmia, hoteliers Aman Nath, Keshav Suri and business executive Ayesha Kapur – along with 20 former and present students of the IITs.

Section 377 refers to 'unnatural offences' and says whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to pay a fine.

In 2009, the Delhi High Court had decriminalised homosexuality between consenting adults. The high court had stated that Section 377 was in violation of Articles 21, 14 and 15 of the Constitution.

However, the top court in 2013 set aside the order terming it as "legally unsustainable".

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