Dr Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (6 September) on yesterday’s ruling by the Supreme Court of India to legalise consensual same-sex practices:
After 158 years of homosexuals being criminalised in India, the country’s Supreme Court has made a ground breaking decision to legalise same sex intercourse between consenting adults. I warmly welcome this milestone for the protection of human rights and the dignity of the individual.
The ruling will give the community significantly higher security and protection. It also shows that the determined efforts of numerous supporters of the LGBTQI community in India paid out in the end. I am already looking forward to speaking with members of this community during my planned visit to India later this year.“
On 5 September 2018, the Supreme Court of India unanimously overturned section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. Dating from the colonial period, section 377 laid down a prison term of up to ten years for sexual intercourse ”against the order of nature“. The judges thus revised an earlier ruling by the court in 2013 asking Parliament to decide on legalising homosexual practices and granted a petition by five activists who had campaigned for the decriminalisation of consensual homosexual acts by the Supreme Court after Parliament had failed to amend the law even after over five years. In its ruling, the court has sent a clear message of support for the rights of the individual. Prosecution of homosexuals had virtually ceased in recent years, but members of the community had deplored an ongoing high level of legal ambiguity and public pressure.