India’s LGBT+ community is celebrating a watershed Supreme Court ruling that affirms basic human rights for gay people, the News Minute reports.
While the country’s penal code criminalises same-sex sexual relations—a panel of judges has decreed that LGBT+ people have the right to live in private, pointing to the fundamental rights guaranteed in India’s Constitution.
"Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy,” the opinion written by Justice DY Chandrachud reads.
“Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual.
“Equality demands that the sexual orientation of each individual in society must be protected on an even platform.
“The right to privacy and the protection of sexual orientation lie at the core of the fundamental rights guaranteed by Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution," Justice DY Chandrachud writes.
The ruling came about from a court case involving the mandatory use of ID cards and is a significant step towards the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
The panel of nine judges affirmed that privacy includes, “at its core the preservation of personal intimacies, the sanctity of family life, marriage, procreation, the home and sexual orientation.”
“It is interesting how they put these four terms together,” lawyer Siddharth Narrain told the News Minute.
“This is something new. Usually, the link between family, marriage, procreation and sexual orientation is something that they expound upon,” he said.
Section 377 of India’s penal code—which dates back to 1860—criminalises sexual activity that is “against the order of nature”. In 2009 the High Court decriminalised the section for consenting adults but the ruling was short lived and was overturned in 2013.
The LGBT+ community and allies have celebrated the privacy ruling, saying Section 377 is on its death bed.