Gay rights activists pose for pictures at a protest organised against the Supreme Court
's order on gay sex in Mumbai - (Reuters)
Human rights and LGBT activists in India are outraged as the country's highest court ruled that a consensual homosexual encounter between two adults is a criminal offence, while religious groups welcomed the judgment.
LGBT activists present in the court room had broken down as the verdict was read out by Supreme Court justice JS Singhvi, on the day of his retirement.
Rights groups are likely to file a petition seeking a review of the judgment. Gay rights activists have also called for protests against the verdict.
Religious Groups Vs LGBT supporters
People ranging from rights activists to historians to politicians to Bollywood actors have expressed outrage against the verdict saying it pushes India towards "dark ages".
Author Taslima Nasreen wrote on her twitter: "India banned love. Shame Shame!"
Rights activist Ashok Row Kavi said: "With this verdict, we are back to square one. But we will fight for our rights. It is essential to note that this has nothing to do with morality and religion. We are just asking for inclusive rights in the society. This is just a type of orientation a lot of people are involved in. We are not doing anything on the roads."
The Amnesty International India said: "This is a black day for all of us citizens of modern India, we are very disappointed by the SC verdict."
However, not everyone is upset by the latest ruling. All India Muslim Law Board and other religious groups have welcomed the judgment.
"The Supreme Court has given this verdict to maintain the culture of this country. I don't know the exact text of the judgement though. We cannot make law on the basis of some people. It is not only against Muslims community, but also Hindus and Christians. It was an offence and therefore it should continue to be an offence. It is a welcome judgment," said the Board's member Zafaryab Jilani.
Popular Yoga guru Baba Ramdev, a staunch critic of homosexuality, said: "The Supreme Court has respected the sentiments of the various religious communities of India. Today they are talking of homosexuality, tomorrow they will talk of having sex with animals."
Overhaul of 153-year old Section 377
Upholding the Section 377, the 153-year old colonial law, the Supreme Court has technically passed on the baton to the Indian parliament to refurbish the legislation.
"It is for the legislature to look into desirability of deleting section 377 of the IPC," said Singhvi in his judgement.
Shortly after the verdict was pronounced, the Delhi administration pledged to overhaul the legislation.
"It's the Supreme Court's prerogative under the Constitution to test the constitutionality of a law. They are exercising their prerogative. We have the prerogative to make laws. We shall exercise our prerogative. The opinion of the Supreme Court must be respected by the government and legislature is the final arbiter of what the law should be. I won't extend my comment beyond that," said the federal Law Minister Kabil Sibal.
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