Delhi High Court Strikes Down Law, Decriminalizing Homosexuality

India LGBT group Queer Media Collective released a statement:

"The Queer Media Collective welcomes the Delhi High Court's decision, in the Public Interest Litigation filed by Naz India and Voices Against 377, to read down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code so that it no longer applies to consenting adults.

Section 377 has been used to criminalise homosexuals in India, and by removing consenting adults from its purview the Delhi High Court has made a powerful statement on the importance of respecting basic human rights of queer people in India.

By making this decision the Delhi High Court has also acted to correct a historical injustice. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was imposed by the British on the historically tolerant attitudes to sexuality that have always existed in India. The law has continued to exist in India long after the British changed their laws in the UK.

Because this law continued to exist in India thousands of people have suffered harassment, discrimination and blackmail simply because they chose to love someone of their same sex. Lesbian couples have been forced to commit suicide, gay men have been blackmailed and forced into marriages that damage both themselves and their wives, and transgendered people have suffered continual violence – for none of which they have had recourse because under Section 377 they all were criminals just for being who they were.

Across the world countries that value tolerance, diversity and the importance of the freedom to lead one's life without harming others have stopped treating homosexuals as criminals. In India people from all walks of life, including legal scholars, intellectuals like Amartya Sen, Vikram Seth and Swami Agnivesh (who signed a letter supporting this case), media and Bollywood personalities and politicians like Health Minister Ambumani Ramadoss have all affirmed the need to change this law.

Now with this decision of the Delhi High Court India has taken the first step towards this much needed change. We call on the Indian government to support this decision. We call on other courts to take note of this judgement. We call on the police to stop any harassment of queer people. And we call on all people, in India and abroad, to welcome this verdict as a victory for basic common sense and basic human rights."