Supreme Court To Hear Petitions Filed By LGBTs, Others Challenging Section 377 Of Indian Penal Code

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New Delhi: The five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India DipakMisra will hear petitions challenging Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. This section of the IPC criminalizes non penile-vaginal intercourse, even between consenting adults. While everyone is covered under the law, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community are particularly affected.

The legal arguments against Section 377 that will be heard by a constitution bench of the Supreme Court beginning Tuesday will quote from a range of references, including Hindu philosophy and past judgments of the Supreme Court itself.

The bench will hear six petitions and interventions filed by NGO Naz Foundation, parents of queer persons and Voices Against 377, a collective of human rights groups, among others. In all, 35 individuals have come before the court, which signals a growing confidence in the community to come out in the public eye and claim their sexual orientation and gender identity.

The petitions use previous Supreme Court verdicts, such as the 2014 National Legal Services Authority (Nalsa) versus Union of India judgment, which granted equal social and legal status to the transgender community, and the 2017 Justice K.S Puttaswamy (Retd) and Anr versus Union of India, which recognized the right to privacy as a fundamental right, stating that sexual orientation was an essential attribute of privacy. They also speak of the various kinds of discrimination, sexual violence and distress that LGBTQ persons face on account of the law.

On Monday, the court also accepted an intervention application filed by Mumbai-based activist Harish Iyer, which uses references from the Bhagavad Gita, Vedic texts, even the Kama Sutra.

“The Kama Shastra acknowledges third-gender marriages wherein same-sex couples with great attachment and complete faith in one another get married,” the application quotes from the Kama Sutra.

“I have filed this application as an individual who has been directly affected by Section 377. Over the past decade, I have faced prejudice,” Iyer said.

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