TIMELINE: Indian SC decriminalises Section 377 | The Daily Star
02:38 PM, September 06, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:21 PM, September 06, 2018

TIMELINE: Indian SC decriminalises Section 377

The Times of India has prepared the following timeline of events which led to this historic verdict in which the Indian Supreme Court today ruled that consensual adult gay sex is not a crime saying sexual orientation is natural and people have no control on it.

--  Time 12:25 PM, September 6 2018, gay sex stands decriminalised. All five judges signed the verdict. Homosexuality gets legal approval and recognition. SC reads down 158-years old colonial law and allowed gay sex among consenting adults in private. 

--  Section 377 of the IPC refers to 'unnatural offences' and says whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to pay a fine. 

--  The section came into force in 1861 during the British rule of India (modelled on the Buggery Act of 1533) which criminalised sexual activities "against the order of nature", including homosexual activities. 

--  It says - 'Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.' 

--  The issue of Section 377 was first raised by an NGO, Naaz Foundation, and AIDS Bedhbhav Virodh Andolan, in the Delhi high court in 2001. Both the petitions were dismissed in the court. 

--  Eight years later, the Delhi HC decriminalised sex between consenting adults of the same gender by holding the penal provision "illegal". 

--  However, the 2009 judgement of the high court was overturned in 2013 by the Supreme Court which had also dismissed a review plea. 

--  The LGBT community got hope in 2014 when the SC directed the government to declare transgender a 'third gender' and include them in the OBC quota.

--  On August 24, 2017, the SC had upheld the Right to Privacy as a fundamental right under the Constitution. The SC also had called for equality and condemned discrimination, stating that the protection of sexual orientation lies at the core of the fundamental rights and that the rights of the LGBT population are real and founded on constitutional doctrine.

--  In January 2018, a three-member SC bench heard a petition filed by five people asking the apex court to revisit the Naaz Foundation judgement. The case was referred to a larger bench and help was sought from the Centre also.

--  The apex court on July 17 reserved its verdict on whether to decriminalise Section 377 or not. The SC will decide whether the section criminalising consensual gay sex is valid or not on Thursday.

--  Gender rights activists have argued that Section 377 violates different articles of the Indian Constitution -- Article 14 guaranteeing equality before law to all individuals; Article 15 ensuring that no person is discriminated against on the basis of caste, gender, creed etc; and Article 21 ensuring the right of life and liberty to all the citizens of the country.

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