M A I N   N E W S

A day after, govt weighs options to de-criminalise homosexuality
Sonia disappointed with SC verdict; Rahul says sexual preference is an individual’s choice 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 12
A day after the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of Section 377 of the IPC which criminalises gay and lesbian sex, the government rushed to allay growing fears of discrimination among India’s sexual minorities, saying it was exploring all options to de-criminalise adult consensual relationships.

Among these is a review petition in the Supreme Court, a curative petition before a larger SC bench or an ordinance in case Parliament fails to take up the amendment bill.

The tone for rectification was set by Congress president Sonia Gandhi herself when, while departing from the past party practice of respecting all apex court orders, she termed Section 377 as an archaic, repressive and unjust law that infringed upon the basic human rights enshrined in the Constitution.

Sonia said she was disappointed over apex court’s move to reverse the 2009 Delhi High Court ruling in the matter and urged the Parliament to address the issue. Her son and Congress Vice president Rahul openly too, in a rare public appearance today, disagreed with the SC saying “sexual preferences were individual choices.”

With a cue from the Congress leadership, which, for the first time, openly defied the SC to side with the people’s concerns, various Union ministers lined up to say the government would do everything possible to restore the Delhi HC order on Section 377 . There are close to 100 million LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans gender) people in India.

“The government is considering all options to restore the Delhi HC verdict on Section 377 IPC. We must de-criminalise adult consensual relationships. Time is of essence,” Law Minister Kapil Sibal said while his Cabinet colleague and Finance Minister P Chidambaram was harsher in his criticism,

slamming the SC order as “wrong” and saying that the Attorney General should be asked to look at a curative petition. Chidambaram argued for exploring the legal options (review and curative petitions) before taking the legislative route which can be time consuming. UPA sources, meanwhile, pointed out that after legal options had been exhausted, the ordinance route could also be considered. The government is learnt to have already sought the AG’s views on the matter with Chidambaram clarifying that the UPA’s stand on Section 377 IPC was clear. “We didn’t appeal the Delhi High Court order de-criminalising sexual engagement between consenting adults in private. That was the party’s stand,” he said.

Former Home Minister wondered why the SC had not referred the Section 377 IPC issue to a five-judge bench. “They (a five judge bench) should have looked into all aspects of the law. Interpretation of the law cannot be static. What you have done is…gone back in time, in 1860, and I am, therefore, terribly upset,” He said on a day Naz Foundation, petitioners in the matter, weighed their legal options aware of meagre political consensus on an amendment to repeal the controversial law from the statute.

Options available

  • A review petition in the Supreme Court
  • A curative petition before a larger SC Bench
  • An ordinance in case Parliament fails to take up the amendment Bill now

Section 377 archaic: Sonia

  • Congress president Sonia Gandhi termed Section 377 as an archaic, repressive and unjust law
  • Sonia said she was disappointed over apex court’s ruling
  • She urged Parliament to address the issue
  • Rahul Gandhi, too, disagreed with the SC, saying “sexual preferences were individual choices”





Call all-party meet: BJP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 12
The BJP on Thursday largely remained silent on n the Supreme Court's controversial verdict criminalising homosexuality. Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said was that the saffron party would make its stand public only after an all-party meet.

"Call an all-party meeting on Section 377 and we will discuss this issue after that," said Sushma.

She said the Congress should take a clear stand on the issue. Merely expressing disappointment was not enough, she said.

Earlier party spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi was quoted as saying: "We welcome the decision of the court because it is important that Section 377 remains. It is not only women who can be exploited and harassed but men also get exploited so there is a need for a law to protect men too".

A section of the social media has been quite vocal about the BJP's "silence" on the issue, which clearly goes against the mindset of its traditional RSS-backed vote bank.

Party leaders, however, said "it was not important to comment on each issue". 





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