India: Supreme Court hears arguments for anti-gay law

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A challenge of the decision to decriminalise homosexuality in India has begun at the country’s Supreme Court this week.

in 2009. the Delhi High Court overturned Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalised “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”.

The law was ruled to violate fundamental citizens’ rights under the Indian constitution.

Requests to the Supreme Court to stay the judgement were denied and the law, introduced 150 years ago, was lifted.

Calls followed soon after to challenge the judgement at India’s highest court.

Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Umri, president of the hardline Indian Islamic group Jamaat-e-Islami Hind said in 2009: “The time has come for all religious leaders to unite on this issue and jointly protest the government’s proposed move to legalise gay rights. A consensus should be evolved for challenging the Delhi High Court order in the Supreme Court.”

The case has now been brought and debate began at the Supreme Court yesterday with a petition by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

Justices GS Singhvi and SJ Mukhopadhyaya asked petitioners who had the authority to decide the “order of nature” that gay acts supposedly violate.

They asked: “Test-tube babies, surrogate mothers – are they in the order of nature?”

The Hindustan Times said the court planned to “decide whether [Section 377] can be redefined in the modern context”.

The hearings continue.