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IITians Move Supreme Court Challenging Criminalisation of Consensual Gay Sex

The 20 IITians, including scientists, teachers, entrepreneurs and researchers of different age groups and all Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual and Transgenders (LGBT), have claimed that criminalisation of sexual orientation has resulted in a "sense of shame, loss of self-esteem and stigma".

PTI

Updated:May 15, 2018, 7:49 PM IST
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IITians Move Supreme Court Challenging Criminalisation of Consensual Gay Sex
Picture for representation. (Reuters)
New Delhi: Twenty former and current students of prestigious IITs have moved the Supreme Court challenging section 377 of the IPC which criminalises unnatural carnal sex between two consenting adults of the same gender.

The 20 IITians, including scientists, teachers, entrepreneurs and researchers of different age groups and all Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual and Transgenders (LGBT), have claimed that criminalisation of sexual orientation has resulted in a "sense of shame, loss of self-esteem and stigma".

The plea is likely to be taken up by a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, which has already referred to a five-judge constitution bench several petitions filed by eminent citizens and NGO 'Naaz Foundation' challenging the 2013 apex court verdict which had re-criminalised gay sex between consenting adults.

The present petition has been filed on behalf of LGBT alumni association of the IITs, which claims to have over 350 members. Among the petitioners, the youngest one is a 19-year-old student of IIT Delhi, while the oldest one graduated from an IIT in 1982.

"The petitioners contend that the continued existence of section 377 severely curtails the protection of equality, dignity, liberty and expression that the Constitution guarantees to all Indian citizen.

"The stigma, silence and violence that section 377 brings in its wake, deeply hurts the petitioners' professional promise and personal fulfilment," the petition said.

It alleged that several of the petitioners have had to grapple with depression, self-harm and other mental health issues, all of which have had a very deleterious effect on their academic and career prospects.

The petition urged the court to intervene to finally settle the controversial issue as the government and Parliament had been reluctant to examine it.

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 ten years, and shall also be liable to pay a fine.

Earlier the apex court, while referring the other pleas to a larger bench, had sought responses from the ministries of Law and Justice, Home Affairs and Health.

On May one, the top court had dealt with two pleas filed by LGBT rights activists Arif Jafar, Ashok Row Kavi and others including Mumbai-based NGO Humsafar Trust which fights for LGBT rights. The court had on April 23 sought the Centre's reply on a hotelier's plea for striking down Section 377.

The bench had ordered tagging of hotelier Keshav Suri's petition with other similar pleas which have already been referred by the apex court to a constitution bench on January 8.

While agreeing to reconsider the 2013 verdict criminalising gay sex, the top court had on January 8 said the section of people or individuals who exercise their choice should never "remain in a state of fear". It had also said the determination of the order of nature is not a constant phenomenon as social morality changes from age to age.

The apex court is already seized of similar pleas filed by celebrities like dancer N S Johar, chef Ritu Dalmia and another hotelier Aman Nath challenging the validity of section 377 criminalising the consensual gay sex.

The Delhi High Court, on July 2, 2009, had legalised homosexual acts among consenting adults, holding that the 149-year-old law making it a criminal offence was violative of the fundamental rights.

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| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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