US State Department urges India to end anti-gay law

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The US State Department has urged India to put an end to a law which bans sex “against the order of nature”.

Section 377 of the penal code stipulates a prosecution of 10 years in jail for same-sex sexual activity. Prosecutions are rare but not unknown.

Sarah Sewall, under-secretary for civilian security, democracy, and human rights at the US State Department, delivered a lecture on human rights in New Delhi yesterday.

She said: “People should not be subjected to violence, discrimination, or any kind of abuse and that is true for Afro-Americans in the United States as well as for LGBT community.

“United States is repeatedly raising voice against the deep concern about this around the world.

“The international community and civil society are closely following the developments in India and are urging not to discriminate against homosexuality in India.”

Section 377 dates to 1861 and criminalises consensual “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”, which is widely interpreted as a ban on gay sex.

It was ruled unconstitutional by the New Delhi High Court in 2009, following which India has seen pride events for the first time.

Yet in December last year the Indian Supreme Court overturned the earlier decision and reinstated the ban on gay sex.

In May, Bollywood star Sonam Kapoor said that the anti-gay law contradicted India’s culture, and expressed a hope for same-sex relationships to be shown in Bollywood films.

Bangalore’s Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) told the Bangalore Mirror that an investigation will be held to determine whether the sex was consensual on the part of the doctor. If so, he will also be arrested under Section 377.

Earlier this month, the World Bank calculated that homophobia costs the Indian economy $30.8 billion.