Sex And The Law

September 6, 2018 will be remembered for the landmark judgment from the Supreme Court of India which struck down Section 377 that criminalises same sex marriage. Rainbow placards and flags waved with gay abandon across India a country known to have the world’s most pretentious society with hypocrisy as its dominant feature. The worst manifestation comes in matters of sexual inclinations or behaviour. A society that procreates to the maximum is also the society that seeks to impose maximum curbs on sexual acts. And this with a fundamentalist fervour! The Supreme Court ruling, decriminalising homosexual and other unnatural liaisons, is an appreciable step in tune with the changing times and social mores.

The ruling by a Constitution Bench nullified a law — under Section 377 of the IPC  that so far treated unnatural sex between lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA) as being criminal. The bench ruled that the law violated the right to equality. That it took seven
decades for India – a nation that swears by the cause of individual freedom – to effect such a relaxation speaks shamefully of the way India as s country functioned even under a democratic rule. The Parliament, whose business is to enact laws as also change laws, proved to be of little help in effecting such changes in society. All what one hears from there, instead, are street-smart shouting/slanging matches.

Creditably, India now joins a league of over 25 nations where homosexual behaviour is legal. As is now accepted, such actions are widely prevalent from time immemorial. Fact is also that over 75 nations still see this as a criminal act. In eight of these countries, this can invite death penalty. Irrefutably, many of these 75 nations are doing so under religious influence; mainly Christian and Islamic. Hinduism in India had no such rigid rules. Sex was an act of celebration here until the British, guided by the Victorian era moral
codes, turned the scenario bitter. The law criminalising homosexuality itself is 158 years old. That colonial vestige, in part, is now being done away with.

It’s a pity that the issue was allowed to languish for a quarter of a century through legal fights since the early 90s. The order of the Delhi High court in 2009 decriminalizing homosexuality, after years of
hearing, was not allowed to be implemented, and protracted legal fights had followed. The Supreme Court in 2012 overturned the High Court order. Good sense has finally prevailed on the apex court, albeit belatedly. We hope now that the matter is settled once and for all.

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