Relief for accused of consensual gay sex: official

LGBTQ members celebrate the Supreme Court verdict which decriminalises consensual gay sex on the bank of Upper Lake, in Bhopal. (PTI Photo)

Those accused of consensual gay sex and facing trial or whose petitions are under review can breath easily now as Thursday's Supreme Court verdict, decriminalising part of section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, gives them a ray of hope, officials said.

Gay and lesbian people, who flock to places like Goa, can now roam freely, without any fear of being prosecuted, they added.

The five-judge constitution bench's order has made it clear that it can be relied upon in all the pending consensual gay sex cases whether they are at the trial, appellate or revisional stages, a home ministry official said. 

The number of such cases may not be too high, but the apex court judgment is a big victory for the accused in such cases as they can now cite the order and get relief from the court, he added.

The trial is expected to be called off once the Supreme Court order is mentioned before a judge hearing such a case, the official said.

The verdict is also an encouraging development for those foreigners who believe in gay sex and visit India as tourists as the fear of being prosecuted has gone now, another official said.

A five-judge constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, today unanimously held that the members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community possess the same constitutional rights as other citizens of the country.

In its order, the apex court said, "The declaration of the aforesaid reading down of section 377 shall not, however, lead to the reopening of any concluded prosecutions, but can certainly be relied upon in all pending matters, whether they are at the trial, appellate, or revisional stages." 

It also said section 377, IPC will continue to govern non-consensual sexual acts against adults and all acts of carnal intercourse against minors, besides acts of bestiality. 

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Relief for accused of consensual gay sex: official

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