The gay and lesbian citizens of New Delhi have won a 10-year battle to see homosexuality de-criminalised.
Delhi’s High Court made a landmark decision to overturn a 148-year-old law which made consensual homosexual acts illegal, with a punishment of up to 10 years in jail.
It was deemed that such a law contravened citzens rights to equality, guaranteed under the Indian Constitution.
The criminalisation of homosexuality condemns in perpetuity a sizable section of society and forces them to live their lives in the shadow of harassment, exploitation, humiliation, cruel and degrading treatment at the hands of the law enforcement machinery, the court ruled.
Anjali Goplan, the executive director of the Naz Foundation (India) Trust, the sexual health organisation who lead the charge to see India’s laws changed, was speechless when asked to comment last week.
I’m so excited I haven’t been able to process the news yet … we’ve entered the 21st century, Goplan told reporters.
The International LGBTI Association welcomed the news and said that it brought hope to other countries.
It is a historic verdict which affects one fifth of the world population and one of the biggest countries in the world, ILGA secretary general Renato Sabbadini said.
We hope to see the example of India followed by all those countries whose laws against LGBTI people are the result of colonial rule and we hope one day to see India joining the signatories of the UN Statement for the universal decriminalisation of homosexual acts.
Before that day though, India will have to undergo a process to see homosexuality de-criminalised across the country.
Thursday’s ruling only offers protections to the citizens of New Delhi, though as one of India’s largest cities, it is considered that it will have a persuasive effect on other regions to follow suit.
Read more about the judgement: