‘Anti-gay law is offshoot of British colonialism’

Anti-gay law in India is an offshoot of British colonialism, the Centre submitted before the SC while pleading for decriminalisation of gay sex.

New Delhi: Anti-gay law in the country is an
offshoot of British colonialism and the Indian society earlier
was more tolerant towards homosexuality, the Centre on Thursday
submitted before the Supreme Court while pleading for
decriminalisation of gay sex.

"It would appear that the introduction of Section
377(making gay sex offence) in India was not a reflection of
existing Indian values and traditions. Rather, it was imposed
upon Indian society due to the moral views of the colonizers,"
Attorney General GE Vahanwati submitted.

Appearing before a bench of justices G S Singhvi and SJ
Mukhopadhaya, the AG submitted that government does not find
any legal error in the judgment of Delhi High Court
decriminalising gay sex and accepts the correctness of the

"Indian society prevalent before the enactment of the
IPC had a much greater tolerance for homosexuality than its
British counterpart, which at that time was under the
influence of Victorian morality and values in regard to family
and the procreative nature of sex," he said while referring to
various literature of colonial and pre-colonial times.

"It is submitted that the Government of India does not
find any legal error in the judgment of the High Court and
accepts the correctness of the same. This is also clear from
the fact that it has not filed any appeal against the judgment
of the High Court," he said.

The apex court was hearing petitions by anti-gay rights
activists and also by political, social and religious
organisations, opposing the high court verdict.

The Delhi High Court had in 2009 decriminalised gay sex
as provided in Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and
had ruled that sex between two consenting adults in private
would not be an offence.

Section 377 (unnatural offences) of the IPC makes gay sex
a criminal offence entailing punishment up to life term.

Senior BJP leader BP Singhal has challenged the high
court verdict in the Supreme Court, saying such acts are
illegal, immoral and against the ethos of Indian culture.

Religious organisations like All India Muslim Personal
Law Board, Utkal Christian Council and Apostolic Churches
Alliance too have challenged the judgement.

The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Right, Tamil
Nadu Muslim Munn Kazhgam, astrologer Suresh Kumar Kaushal and
yoga guru Ramdev have also opposed the verdict.

The Centre had earlier informed the apex court that there
were an estimated 25 lakh gay population and about seven
percent (1.75 lakh) of them were HIV-infected.

In its affidavit, filed by the Union health ministry, it
had said that it is planning to bring 4 lakh high-risk `men
who have sex with men (MSM)` under its AIDS control programme
and that it had already covered around 2 lakh of them.