What is Section 377 ? – By Shivam Jhunjhunwala

Section 377

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code dates back almost a century and a half. The British considered carnal relationship between people of the same sex as an unnatural act that was against the will of the God. This was punishable by law in their country. They introduced Section 377 to establish a similar law in India too.  Section 377 also considered bestiality, sex with minors and non-consensual sexual acts to be criminal offences and mentioned that these were punishable by law. Finally, a five judge bench was formed. It dealt with numerous petitions that claimed that Section 377 violated the basic rights of LGBT community such as the right to privacy and the right to lead a dignified life. It was then unanimously agreed that this community deserves its due respect and dignity.

Section 377 was revised and homosexuality was decriminalized. The Supreme Court stated that consensual adult gay sex would no longer be considered a crime. Backing its decision, the court stated that sexual orientation is a natural phenomenon and that people do not have any control over the same. This news came as a respite for people belonging to the LGBT community.

The Supreme Court’s verdict on Section 377 decriminalized homosexuality. The decision was largely appreciated and welcomed with joy particularly by the members of the LGBT community. However, certain sections of the society ridiculed it too. Here is a look at the different kinds of reactions received on the verdict:

CPI (M) appreciated the judgement of the Supreme Court. Party leader, Sitaram Yechury expressed his approval on the same. He said that LGBT community has undergone enough humiliation and deserved this change. Congress Leaders, Rahul Gandhi, Shashi Tharoor and Sachin Pilot also appreciated the Supreme Court verdict. BJP spokesperson, Shaina NC said that the party supports Supreme Court’s decision. Many celebrities from the Indian film fraternity including the likes of Karan Johar, Aamir Khan, Arjun Kapoor, Rajkumar Rao, Sonam Kapoor and Swara Bhasker took to social media to welcome the Supreme Court’s decision.

 The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) said that it also believed that homosexuality is not a crime and that Supreme Court did the right thing. However, the party members also mentioned that they do not overtly support homosexuality as it is against the Hindu tradition and culture. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), on the other hand, stated that legalising homosexuality is wrong as per the Indian values. It said that women would face major problem after this verdict and that the court must pass a bill to protect their rights. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare opposed the Supreme Court’s decision. It mentioned that this would cause a big hindrance in their fight against HIV/ AIDS. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) shared the same opinion. It expressed its disappointment over the Supreme Court’s decision via a press statement. The members of this group believe that this will cause moral degradation. As per them, this will destroy the family system and prove to be a hindrance in the progress of the human race. JIH further said that it will take all measures to resist this shameful descend which is against Indian culture.

People of the LGBT community across the country were thrilled at the historic judgement passed by the Supreme Court. They danced and expressed their joy wholeheartedly. They saw a ray of hope. It meant that they could live life on their own terms and not fear being caught and punished for being who they are. Partial revocation of Section 377 of IPC was a victory for the LGBT community, its supporters and activists.

 

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