Section 377 of IPC: All you need to know about consensual gay sex

Written by September 6, 2018 09:16

New Delhi: The Supreme Court deliverd a verdict on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which criminalises homosexuality. The five-judge Constitutional bench was led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and comprises Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.

All you need to know about Section 377 of IPC

# Section 377 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

# Under 377, consensual sexual acts of adults such as oral and anal sex in private between heterosexuals also are currently treated as unnatural and punishable.

# After years of legal battle, the Delhi High Court in July 2009 de-criminalised consensual homosexual acts in private by declaring as unconstitutional a part of Section 377 of IPC that criminalises unnatural sex. The court said “the section denies a gay person a right to full personhood…”

# However, in December 2013, the Supreme Court set aside the HC verdict. Justice GS Singhvi (since retired) upheld the constitutional validity of Section 377 and said it was for the legislature to take a call on the controversial provision.

# The Supreme Court held out hope for the LGBT community when in April 2014, the top court directed the government to declare transgenders a ‘third gender’ and include them in the OBC quota. The court said they should have all rights under law, including marriage, adoption, divorce, succession and inheritance.

# In February 2016, a curative petition was submitted by Naz Foundation and the then Chief Justice of India, T.S. Thakur decided that the petitions will be reviewed again by a constitutional bench consisting of five members.

# Gender rights activists say that Section 377 violates different articles of the Indian Constitution — Article 14 which guarantees equality before law to all individuals; Article 15 which ensures that no person shall be discriminated against on the basis of caste, gender, creed etc and Article 21 which ensures the right of life and liberty to all the citizens of the country.