In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court today put an end to Section 377 that criminalises homosexuality in India. A 5-member bench declared a unanimous verdict to end the British-era law.
While reading out the verdict on Section 377, Justice Rohinton Nariman, who was part of the 5-member bench in the case, pointed out that since the law came into force in 1861, less than 200 people have been prosecuted under Section 377.
“The fact that only a minuscule fraction of the country’s population constitutes lesbians and gays or transgenders, and that in the last 150 years, less than 200 persons have been prosecuted for committing the offence under Section 377, is neither here nor there,” Justice Nariman said in his order.
He also said that homosexuality cannot be regarded as a mental disorder and gays have the right to live with dignity.
Under the 1861 law, gay sex was punishable by up to 10 years in jail. Gay activists have time and again pointed that police used the law to harass and intimidate members of their community.
“History owes the LGBT community an apology for their sufferings,” said Justice Indu Malhotra, who was also part of the bench.
The Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said that LGBT community possesses rights like others and majoritarian views cannot dictate constitutional rights.
The Supreme Court verdict is being cheered by millions across the country, far beyond the gay community, which has fought for decades for the right to be treated equally.