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  • Media Coverage
  • 10 Aug 2018, Los Angeles Times

These activists helped bring India to the brink of a landmark ruling on gay rights

India’s Supreme Court is due to rule soon in a case challenging Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalizes same-sex intercourse. Based on the justices’ comments in hearings last month, the colonial-era statute’s days appear numbered.

Homosexuality “is not an aberration but a variation,” one said. “Would you now want to make sexual intercourse itself a crime?” asked another.

Five years after the court surprised many by reinstating the law introduced by the British in 1860, Indian activists are optimistic that the ban on sexual intercourse described in the law as “against the order of nature” will be overturned once and for all.

India gay rights demonstration

A Supreme Court judgment last year enshrined Indians’ right to privacy. And India is showing greater tolerance for gays and lesbians even as the country grows more politically conservative under Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose four years in power have seen a rise in hate crimes against minorities, especially Muslims.

While no one has been prosecuted under Section 377, gay Indians say it causes them to live in fear and exposes them to blackmail and threats.

In a culture famed for the Kama Sutra, the ancient Hindu sexual handbook that refers openly to homosexuality, a reversal of the ban would cap a decades-long struggle to bring homosexuality out of the shadows in modern India. Here are some activists who have played key roles in the fight.

Keshav Suri


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