4,700 cases registered under Sec 377 after SC re-criminalised gay sex

Around 4,700 cases were registered under Section 377 of Indian Penal Code in three years from 2014 after Supreme Court struck down an earlier court verdict that decriminalised homosexuality.

Between 2014 and 2016, 4,682 such cases were registered under the IPC provisions that penalise "unnatural sex" and activists claim that police and authorities are over-zealous in using it.

While 1,148 cases were registered in 2014, the year after the apex court re-criminalised gay sex, it rose to 1,347 the next year. In 2016, the figure rose to 2,187 with Uttar Pradesh topping the list with 999 cases, followed by Kerala (207) and Delhi (182). Karnataka had registered eight such cases in 2016 and 10 in 2015.

Police also appeared keen in filing charge sheets against the arrested as figures showed that they filed charge sheets in 1,676 cases, a whopping 84% of the total pending cases.

However, court figures give credence to activists' argument that many of them are unnecessarily harassed. There were 285 acquittals in 2016 and only 191 convictions.

In a historic verdict in 2009, the Delhi High Court had decriminalised homosexuality but in 2013, Supreme Court reversed it. The Supreme Court on Monday announced a review of the ban on gay sex, saying no one should have to live in fear because of their sexuality.

This comes after Supreme Court declared right to privacy a fundamental right and also found that its earlier verdict re-criminalising gay sex was "unsustainable".

Supreme Court judge, Justice D Y Chandrachud, wrote in his judgement, "Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy. Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual."

Commenting on Monday's order, senior lawyer Harish Salve said, "Section 377 is dead after a nine-judge bench said all these are dimensions of Right to Privacy. It will formally be struck down very soon."

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LGBT activist Akkai said they welcome the apex court review. "We still have hope in Indian judiciary. We are living in 21st century. All politicians and political parties must break their silence and support individual's sexuality," Akkai said.

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