NEW DEHLI – The Supreme Court of India has officially banned homosexual acts, saying such actions go “against the order of nature.”
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of India reinstated Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which dates back to 1861. The law states that sexual actions “against the order of nature … shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
In 2009, an Indian high court struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, arguing that it discriminated against the rights of homosexuals. The 2009 ruling called for “inclusiveness and understanding” when dealing with homosexual behavior.
However, Wednesday’s 98-page ruling from the Supreme Court of India reversed the 2009 decision and once again criminalized homosexual acts in nation. The Supreme Court cited dozens of previous court rulings, ultimately concluding that evidence is “wholly insufficient for recording a finding that homosexuals, gays, etc., are being subjected to discriminatory treatment either by State or its agencies or the society.”
“Those who indulge in carnal intercourse in the ordinary course and those who indulge in carnal intercourse against the order of nature,” the ruling explains, “constitute different classes and the people falling in the later category cannot claim that Section 377 suffers from the vice of arbitrariness and irrational classification.”
The ruling further states that “a minuscule fraction of the country’s population constitute lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgenders and in [the] last more than 150 years less than 200 persons have been prosecuted [for offenses under the law].”
“In view of the above discussion,” the Supreme Court concluded, “we hold that Section 377 … does not suffer from the vice of unconstitutionality.”
Following the court’s ruling, The Economic Times described the decision as “a blow to gay rights activists” and reported that “gay activists in the court looked visibly upset.” Slate referred to the ruling as a “shockingly bad” decision.
“I am thoroughly disgusted and disappointed that the Supreme Court can be party to taking away the rights of a section of the country’s citizens,” an Indian homosexual activist told TIME Magazine.
India’s legislature will meet to further discuss Section 377 and its ramifications. Spokespersons for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)—one of the two major political parties in India—have said they will stand by the Supreme Court’s recent decision.
“If an all-party meeting is called,” said the BJP president, according to NDTV, “we will support Section 377 as we believe that homosexuality is an unnatural act. We cannot support it.”
“We have a culture and tradition and [homosexuality] goes against it,” a BJP spokesperson reaffirmed. “One cannot allow a new culture of this kind… against the established norms of society.”
Though the Supreme Court’s decision angered homosexual activists, many Indians are pleased that Section 377 is being reconsidered.
“[Homosexuality] is definitely unnatural and shouldn’t be encouraged,” one commenter posited. “If we allow such acts citing human rights, then we will soon have to approve many more similar things in the near future.”