With the Government of India filing a review petition in the Supreme Court in favour of decriminalization of homosexuality, the general debate on gay rights has got revived. Some political parties and minority religious communities are in favour of the present legal provisions that consider homosexuality a punishable criminal act.
It was on 11 December 2013, the Supreme Court ruled homosexuality to be a criminal offence setting aside the 2009 judgement given by the Delhi High Court. Upholding the constitutional validity of Section 377 of Indian Penal Code that makes anal sex a punishable offence, the bench of Justices G. S. Singhvi and S.J. Mukhopadhaya noted that the parliaments should debate and decide on the matter.
GOI has moved the Supreme Court seeking review of its verdict reviving Section 377 of IPC making gay sex an offence punishable with life term.
According to the official plea for the review of the verdict, due to the High Court judgment that decriminalized adult consensual sexual acts in private, LGBT persons had become open about their sexual orientation and identity in their families, workplaces, educational institutions and public spaces, but with the Supreme Court's reversal, they have suddenly become vulnerable to abuse and discrimination.
Therefore, LGBT persons required immediate relief through the review of the verdict said the petition.
However, some individuals and groups who had hailed the Supreme Court’s verdict have criticized the GOI’s move of review petition. One of the prevalent views against homosexuality is that it is an unnatural act and it is granted as a right, it will promote wrong sexual tendencies and tear apart the social fabric. Another common argument is that decriminalizing homosexuality would promote role reversals and will undermine the feminist traits which need to be respected and honoured.
Many people fear that gay rights in India will enhance the risk of spreading HIV-AIDS at a faster rate. They deem homosexuality a health hazard which needs to be curbed. They hold that the origin of HIV-AIDS lies in unnatural sexual acts and its prevalence is higher among men-having-sex-with-men.
Even a group of medical practitioners holds that homosexuality is an outcome of a mental disorder called ‘gender dysphoria’ in a person that causes a mental distress in him or her regarding his or her gender leading to same-sex relationships.
Therefore, many doctors feel that homosexuality is a deviation from a normal state of gender identity, it needs to be treated as a mental disorder and medical support should be provided to sexually abnormal persons rather than treating homosexuality as matter of sexual preference and human right.