Meet the Indian MP battling to overturn anti-gay laws

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Shashi Tharoor said today that he will continue to fight bigotry after his bill to decriminalise gay sex failed.

Back in December, Tharoor – National Congress Party MP – introduced a private member’s bill which would have overturned Section 377 of India’s Penal Code making gay sex illegal.

The bill, which makes gay sex punishable with up to 10 years in jail, was opposed by members of Modi’s right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The MP said the 153-year-old law “violates the fundamental rights” of gay and bisexual people living in India.

Speaking in an interview, Tharoor said: “They opposed my bill at its very introduction stage which is very, very unusual. Normally opposition comes at the discussion stage, you don’t prevent a bill being introduced by a private member, it’s uncollegial if nothing else.”

Earlier this month, Tharoor assured: “The Indian government is reluctant to amend the law. My Private Member’s Bill was recently defeated in Parliament, but I’m not giving up.”

Activists have been lobbying Indian MPs and battling to remove Section 377, the country’s colonial-era anti-gay law.

Hopes were raised in 2009, when the country’s sodomy law was thrown out, until homosexuality was re-criminalised in 2013, when Section 377 of the country’s Penal Code was reinstated by the Supreme Court.

Indian society sees homosexuality as taboo, and same-sex relationships are widely regarded as illegitimate.