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Indian court refuses to review gay sex ban

Date
Indian rights activists demonstrate in Bangalore against the Supreme Court's decision to uphold section 377 of the penal code, which bans gay sex.

Indian rights activists demonstrate in Bangalore against the Supreme Court's decision to uphold section 377 of the penal code, which bans gay sex. Photo: AFP

Delhi: India's top court has rejected a plea filed by the government and activist groups to review its shock ruling that reinstated a colonial-era ban on gay sex.

In its December 11 ruling, the Supreme Court reversed a lower court verdict from 2009 that had set aside section 377 of the penal code, introduced by India's British rulers in 1860, which outlawed "carnal intercourse against the order of nature".

A Supreme Court bench on Tuesday dismissed petitions filed by the government and rights groups against its December verdict. Gay sex remains an offence punishable by up to life imprisonment.

"We see no reason to interfere with the order impugned. The review petitions are dismissed," Supreme Court justices H.L. Dattu and S.J. Mukhopadhaya said in their decision.

The Congress Party-led government filed the review petition amid an outcry among activists against the December judgment.

It asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision to "avoid a grave miscarriage of justice to thousands of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) individuals".

The government added in its petition that the ruling upholding the Raj-era law was "violative of the principle of equality".

Anand Grover, lawyer for the gay rights activist group Naz Foundation, said he was "shocked" by the Supreme Court's decision.

But Mr Grover said that though "this battle may be lost, the war will still go on".

The decision means that further attempts to scrap section 377 will have to go through India's chaotic federal parliament rather than the judiciary.

AFP 

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