SC refers plea regarding Section 377 to Constituition Bench

Posted January 09, 2018

In a boost for the LGBT community, the Supreme Court (SC) has chose to revisit its earlier verdict on Section 377 which criminalises homosexuality and has referred a plea seeking its decriminalisation to a larger bench.

Section 377 criminalises sexual acts "against the order of nature" and has undergone many twists and turns ever since the Delhi High Court decriminalised it in 2009.

The plea seeking decriminalisation of homosexuality or gay sex between two consenting adults was referred to a larger bench by the apex court on Monday. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court's decision today leaves LGBT people in MS in the crosshairs of hate and humiliation, delaying justice and equality.

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Most recently, it was on 24 August 2017 that the Supreme Court ruled that the "Right to Privacy" was a fundamental right, called for equality and condemned discrimination. "Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual".

The bench comprising of Supreme Court Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said, "societal morality changes with time, law walks with life. Choice can't be allowed to cross boundaries of law but confines of law can't trample or curtail the inherent right embedded in an individual under Art 21 of Constitution", the bench observed.

"The 5th Circuit was right to find that those opposing this law haven't been harmed and, therefore, can't try to take it down", Kevin Theriot, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a statement.

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"We will keep fighting in MS until we overturn this harmful law, and in any state where anti-gay legislators pass laws to roll back LGBT civil rights", said Beth Littrell, a lawyer with gay rights group Lambda Legal.

The Supreme Court today announced a review of the controversial ban on gay sex saying no one should have to live in fear due to their sexuality.

SC has also issues notice to the Centre seeking response on a writ petition filed by five members of LGBT community, who say they live in fear of Police due to their natural sexual preferences, according to new agency ANI. It also includes a maximum punishment of life imprisonment. "The people of Mississippi have the right to ensure that all of our citizens are free to peacefully live and work without fear of being punished for their sincerely held religious beliefs", Bryant said, according to Mississippi Today.

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