India stuck with old LGBT laws

India stuck with old LGBT Laws and Need of reforms for LGBT community

Which was the first country to legalise sexual acts between people of same gender? How many countries allow it?

In 1791, the constitutional monarchy formed after the French Revolution adopted a Penal Code that removed sodomy provisions to become the first modern country to decriminalise same-sex acts. It’s worth noting that a taboo on this form of union is largely a European concept, introduced to other countries during the colonial era. French occupation of other European countries resulted in introduction of French Penal Code decriminalising homosexuality. So homosexuality was legalised in Luxembourg, Netherlands and Belgium when they came under France’s control. Advocacy group International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) says 124 countries allow same-sex acts.

Which countries allow same sex marriages?

Last week, Australia’s parliament voted to legalise same- sex marriage and joined a handful of other states that permit such alliances. According to a report from Pew Research Center, 26 countries had legalised gay marriages as of August, 2017. In December 2000, the Netherlands became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by an act in its parliament that allowed same-sex couples the right to marry, divorce and adopt children. It was followed by Belgium, Canada and Spain. With the exception of South Africa, New Zealand and Australia all these countries are in Europe or the Americas.


In how many countries is it illegal for people of same gender to form a sexual relationship?

Including India, there are 71 countries that prohibit same-sex relationships, according to ILGA. A 2014 study by Enze Han, University of London and Joseph O’Mahoney, Seton Hall University, (US) reported that many of these countries where homosexuality is illegal, trace the law that criminalised these relationships to their colonial past — especially British colonialism. The study found almost 70% of states with a British colonial origin criminalised homosexual conduct. Ironically in many of these, including India, homosexuality is seen as a western concept.


The Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code makes sex or marriage with persons of the same gender punishable by law. 

On 2 July 2009, in Naz Foundation v. Govt. of NCT of Delhi, the Delhi High Court held that provision to be unconstitutional with respect to sex between consenting adults, but the Supreme Court of India overturned that ruling on 11 December 2013. 

Homosexuality is a taboo in India. In recent years, however, the attitude of people towards homosexuality have shifted slightly. 

Several organisations, including the Naz Foundation (India) Trust, the National AIDS Control Organisation, Law Commission of India, Union Health Ministry, National Human Rights Commission of India and the Planning Commission of India have expressed support for decriminalising homosexuality in India, and pushed for tolerance and social equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

How widely has Section 377 been used in India?

The convictions under this section have been negligible. While striking down the Delhi High Court order that decriminalised consensual gay sex, the Supreme Court, in its judgement dated December 11, 2013, had quoted the Union home ministry as having submitted to the Delhi High Court that: “Section 377 has been applied only on complaint of a victim and there are no instances of arbitrary use or application in situations where the terms of the section do not naturally extend to Section 377 IPC.”

However, LGBT rights activist have argued that while the section may not have been legally used, it presence is a potential source of misuse and harassment by the police.

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