India’s Supreme Court has refused to hear a petition challenging Section 377 of the Indian penal code, which prohibits “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal.”
This is the third time India has voted to keep Section 377 in the last six months.
A letter sent to the Court said: “The petitioners are lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGBT) citizens of India whose rights to sexuality, sexual autonomy, choice of sexual partner, life, privacy, dignity, and equality along with the other fundamental rights guaranteed under Part-III of Constitution, are violated by Section 377.”
The Court refused to hear the matter and asked the petitioners to approach Chief Justice TS Thakur – who is already hearing a separate case to strike down the ban.
Founder of FSOG, Shubham Mehrotra called this a “major setback for the Indian LGBT+ community and the people who are fighting to amend the archaic law.”
National Congress MP, Shashi Tharoor, who has repeatedly attempted to repeal the law, called the petition a ‘brief spasm of hope…dashed by Supreme Court’.
‘Indian culture and history reveal no intolerance of sexual difference or orientation and embrace the ardhanarishvara,’ Tharoor has said. ‘[But many politicians] prefer British colonial law.’
A number of countries have pressured India to overturn its ban on gay sex and respect human rights regardless of sexual orientation.
Sir Ian McKellen, who visited the country last month said: “We changed [our laws] long back in England, but you are holding on to it to protect yourselves from western culture.”
Sir Ian also told the Mumbai Mirror that “India needs to grow up”.
Currently, violation of the law can result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years.