Why in News:
- Lawmakers in Taiwan have approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, a landmark decision that makes the self-ruled island the first place in Asia to pass gay marriage legislation.
- Lawmakers comfortably passed part of a bill that would allow gay couples to enter into “exclusive permanent unions” and apply for marriage registration with government agencies.
What is Section 377?
- Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code dating back to 1860, introduced during the British rule of India, criminalises sexual activities “against the order of nature”, including homosexual sexual activities. Prior to that, sexual activities, including amongst homosexuals, were not penalised in India.
- Though it textually applies to all persons, homosexual and heterosexual, it has been targeted at Transgender men.
Courts judgement on Section 377
- The Delhi High Court in Naz Foundation v. Government of NCT of Delhi (2009) rightly held that criminalising sexual activities with consent in private not only impairs the dignity of those persons targeted by the law, but it is also discriminatory and impacts the health of those people.
- The top court had set aside a historic Delhi High Court judgment that had decriminalized homosexuality.
- Supreme Court, in Suresh Kumar Koushal v. Naz Foundation (2013) case, set aside the Delhi High Court judgment and said that homosexuality or unnatural sex between two
consenting adults under Section 377 of IPC is illegal and will continue to be an offense. The court said that Section 377 did not suffer from any “constitutional infirmity”.
- The astounding claim made in Koushal case that there was no need to challenge Section
377 because the LGBT community constitutes only a minuscule minority has been completely discredited. It was unreasonable to advance the view that constitutional protection is available to a group based on its size.