Today: Gay sex now legal in New Delhi

3 July 2009
Today
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Gay sex now legal in New Delhi

NEW DELHI – New Delhi’s highest court issued a landmark ruling yesterday that decriminalised gay sex between consenting adults in India by declaring a colonial-era ban on homosexuality unconstitutional.

The decision by the Delhi High Court was hailed by gay activists here as a historic step in their struggle to achieve equal rights in the deeply conservative country.

Homosexuality has been illegal in India since 1860. Although prosecutions were rare, gay activists said the police used the law to intimidate members of their community.

Rights activists say the law, also known as section 377 of the Penal Code, sanctions discrimination.

While the ruling is non-binding outside the Indian capital, it effectively leaves the government with the choice of appealing to the Supreme Court or repealing the law nationwide, AFP reported.

The decision was criticised by religious groups, particularly leaders of India’s Muslim and Christian communities.

The United Nations agency leading the fight against Aids said the ruling will make it easier to reach homosexuals with programmes to combat the spread of Aids and HIV. Agencies

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