On Wednesday, December 11, India’s Supreme Court ruled to reinstate a colonial-era law criminalizing homosexual activity. Only 24 hours later, India’s government has expressed dismay over this verdict and are pushing to take urgent action.
“We will have to change the law. If the Supreme Court has upheld that law, then we will certainly have to take firm steps,” Law Minister Kapil Sibal explained to reporters. “Change has to be made fast and any delay cannot take place.”
Sibal explained the two routes which are being considered. One option is to take the issue straight to Parliament, the other strategy is to approach the issue with the Supreme Court.
A powerful politician and head of India’s ruling Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi, expressed deep disappointment over the Wednesday verdict. “Parliament will address the issue and uphold the constitutional guarantee of life and liberty to all citizens of India, including those directly affected by the judgment,” Gandhi said, according to OPB.
In 2009 the Delhi High Court overturned the 1861 law which banned homosexual activity, ruling that Section 377 was a violation of human rights and therefore unconstitutional. However, many conservative Muslim, Christian, and Hindu religious groups found the 2009 verdict faulty and challenged it. When the news hit that the Supreme Court had reinstated the colonial-era law banning homosexuality, many religious groups were thrilled with the decision, but LGBT and human rights activists were outraged.
Social media outlets were swarming with displeased comments.
On Facebook, Amit Mishra said,
Welcome to Victorian India in the 21st Century. Welcome to the country that has BANNED LOVE but has pardoned a guy who ripped out the intestines of a girl on the account of being a ‘juvenile’. Welcome to the country where marital rape is perfectly normal but consensual sex between persons of the same gender is a CRIME. It isn’t about homosexuality, it’s about the right of every individual to liberty and equality.. disappointed !!
The group Lawyers Collective posted on Twitter:
— Lawyers Collective (@LCHIVWRI) December 11, 2013
A well-respected Indian commentator, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, expressed his viewpoint on the Supreme Court’s decision, saying, “[the decision]will be remembered in infamy as one of those decisions that, like Dred Scott, show how liberal democracies can sometimes give rein to a regime of oppression and discrimination under the imprimatur of law.”