by Rex Wockner
India’s Supreme Court was scheduled April 19 to begin hearing multiple appeals of the Delhi High Court ruling that struck down the nation’s ban on gay sex in July 2009, but the court deferred the matter until autumn instead.
The appeals were launched by various groups and individuals. Other groups have intervened to support the decision, including filmmaker Shyam Benegal, parents with gay children, academics and teachers, and mental health professionals. The government did not appeal the decision.
In striking down the ban nationally, the High Court “read down” Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code so that it no longer applies to the activities of consenting adults. The section bans “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal” under penalty of 10 years to life in prison.
The court said the statute violated the Constitution’s guarantee of equality under the law, ban on discrimination based on sex, and promises of personal liberty and protection of life.
“Section 377 IPC targets the homosexual community as a class and is motivated by an animus towards this vulnerable class of people,” the court wrote. “It has no other purpose than to criminalize conduct which fails to conform with the moral or religious views of a section of society.”
Given India’s large population, the High Court’s decision decriminalized around 17 percent of all LGB people on the planet.