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Section 377 IPC: Supreme Court bench rejects deference plea of the Centre; hearings on decriminalising gay sex to continue
The Supreme Court of India after rejecting the GOI's plea to defer hearing petitions challenging Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, from this Tuesday, July 10, started hearing a number of petitions filed by various parties challenging an around 160-year old ICP provision that criminalises homosexuality or gay sex in India.

There is wider speculation now that the Supreme Court is going to decide in favour of the gay rights and Section 377 IPC is on its way out. There are indications that the apex court is likely to have favourable view to petitions that are challenging the existing provisions. The pleas have made that neither the State nor one's parents should be allowed the influence an adult's choice of partner which is a fundamental right of an individual according to his or her sexual orientation.

The petitions which are being heard by the Constitution Bench are challenging the very constitutionality of Section 377 IPC that even criminalises private consensual sex between adults of the same sex.

It may be recalled that at that time, the Centre had not appealed in the Supreme Court against the Delhi High Court judgment of 2010 protecting the LGBT community from Section 377.

However, the Centre had filed a review petition against the apex court judgment of December 2013. Even the 172nd Law Commission Report had recommended the deletion of Section 377 IPC but no action was initiated on the basis of the recommendation.

Once again the public debate has started and many commoners and religious leaders are holding a firm stand that gay sex is an un-natural act amounting to being a serious social offence, a perversion and a mental illness. Such people hold that legalising homosexuality will result in increased delinquent inappropriate behaviour in the society.

With gay rights being recognised in many countries, the gays are even reaching the top posts. The current enlarged view of homosexuality that is taking currency is that gay sex is an acceptable manifestation of sexual preference of certain individuals without any sociological and clinical judgments on it.

Consequent to this enlarged and informed view, in many countries homosexuality has been accepted and equally respected as heterosexuality and no clinical and social issues being raised as long as an individual is comfortable with his or her sexual preference and accepts it as a natural physiological drive.

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