NHRC urges government to modify Section 377

New Delhi, Dec 14 : Days after the Supreme Court verdict once again criminalized gay sex in India, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Saturday urged the Centre to make all necessary legislative modifications in Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) top make sure that no citizen is deprived of his human rights.

"The NHRC has noted with concern the public response to the recent Supreme Court judgment in view of the fact that human rights of a section of society are involved in this matter. In 2009, by judgment of Delhi High Court, it was held that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalizes consensual sexual acts of adults in private is violative of Article 21, 14 and 15 of the Constitution. The High Court was of the view that Section 377 of the IPC grossly violates the rights of citizens who are lesbians, gay, bisexual or trans-genders," the NHRC said in a statement.

"The above view has now been reversed by the Supreme Court. NHRC is of the view that all people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be able to enjoy their human rights. The Commission, therefore, appeals to the Government to urgently take all necessary legislative treatment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity so that no individual or a group of people is deprived of their human rights. Section 377 of the IPC should be suitably modified to achieve the above object," it said.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday set aside a landmark pro-LGBT judgement of Delhi High Court in 2009, by ruling that homosexuality would continue to remain illegal in the country and would not be constitutionally invalid.

The Delhi High Court verdict of July 2009 had not been challenged by the Government of India. Since then it is like a law in India. But the SC verdict changed all that and gay sex will again be illegal in India.

The Delhi Court had read down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalized homosexuality, ruling that gay sex between two consenting adults in private is not an offence.

India's LGBT groups and HIV/AIDS fighters had been be vocal about decriminalizing homosexuality, which is a legacy of the British colonial law.

Section 377 has been used by the police and other groups to harass homosexuals.

While various religious and other orthodox groups are against legalizing gay sex in India, the rights groups were expecting a favourable verdict.

The Supreme Court had reserved its order on the issue in March last year.

--IBNS (Posted on 15-12-2013)

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