London: The Supreme Court`s ruling on Wednesday making consensual same-sex conduct between adults a criminal offence is the "worst setback" experienced by the global gay movement, a British expert said today.
"The ruling is the worst setback experienced by global Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender movement (LGBT) movement in recent years and it is quite shocking judgement because it clearly reverses the Delhi High Court ruling of 2009 and goes against the pattern of global change in relation to human rights," Mathew Waites, a senior lecturer in sociology at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, said.
"India is particularly important in relation to the Commonwealth because in Commonwealth there are 53 states of which 41 criminalise same sex behaviour and only a few countries have decriminalised," Waites, who co-edited "Human rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Commonwealth", said.
"Section 377 is a legacy of the British colonialism and it should be read down," he said.
The Supreme Court said Parliament is authorised to delete section 377 of IPC but till the time this penal provision is there, the court cannot legalise this kind of sexual relationship.
In its verdict, the court upheld the constitutional validity of the penal provision making gay sex an offence punishable with upto life imprisonment.
In 2009, the Delhi High Court in a verdict had decriminalised gay sex among consenting adults in private.
The apex court allowed the appeals filed by various social and religious organisations challenging the high court verdict on the ground that gay sex is against the cultural and religious values of the country.