India Reverses Course, Reinstates Ban on Gay Sex

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 11 2013 6:14 PM

India Reverses Course, Reinstates Ban on Gay Sex

An Indian gay-rights activist shouts slogans during a protest against the Supreme Court ruling reinstating a ban on gay sex.

Photo by Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images

In a surprising reversal, India’s Supreme Court  reinstated on Wednesday a ban on gay sex in the country that dates back to over 150 years. The move reverses a 2009 ruling by a lower court that decriminalized consensual homosexual sex. Four years after that ruling, following petitions by conservative groups in the country, India’s top court said that the colonial era law was still constitutionally valid and any change to the law would have to go through parliament.

The law, section 377 of the penal code, holds a same-sex relationship to be an “unnatural offense” punishable by a 10-year prison sentence. According to the BBC, “the law has rarely - if ever - been used to prosecute anyone for consensual sex, it has often been used by the police to harass homosexuals.”


The move came as a shock to rights activists around the world, Reuters reports, who “expected the court simply to rubber-stamp the earlier ruling” after a recent string progressive rulings from the court. Here’s more on potential next steps regarding the law within the Indian government via Reuters:

India's Law Minister Kapil Sibal said the government could raise the matter in parliament. The government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was seen to broadly support the 2009 ruling, and some ministers said they opposed Wednesday's rollback. But it seems unlikely the government will risk taking a stand on the issue in the short term. General elections are due by next May and the socially conservative Hindu nationalist opposition is already gathering momentum.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

An Iranian Woman Was Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist. Can Activists Save Her?

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.


How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

The U.S. Has a New Problem in Syria: The Moderate Rebels Feel Like We’ve Betrayed Them

We Need to Talk: A Terrible Name for a Good Sports Show by and About Women

Trending News Channel
Oct. 1 2014 1:25 PM Japanese Cheerleader Robots Balance and Roll Around on Balls
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
The Eye
Oct. 1 2014 1:04 PM An Architectural Crusade Against the Tyranny of Straight Lines
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 2:08 PM We Need to Talk: Terrible Name, Good Show
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Oct. 1 2014 1:53 PM Slate Superfest East How to get your tickets before anyone else.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 3:02 PM The Best Show of the Summer Is Getting a Second Season
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 3:01 PM Netizen Report: Hong Kong Protests Trigger Surveillance and Social Media Censorship
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 2:36 PM Climate Science Is Settled Enough The Wall Street Journal’s fresh face of climate inaction.
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.