India’s Supreme Court has decriminalized gay sex. On Thursday, India’s chief justice, Dipak Misra, told the people gathered in the courtroom that the colonial-era law known as Section 377 was “irrational, indefensible, and manifestly arbitrary,” according to the New York Times. “We have to bid adieu to prejudices and empower all citizens.”
The decision makes India, the world’s second-most populous country, one of the more progressive nations, at least when it comes to gay rights. While human rights activists hope that the Indian court’s decision will “reverberate around the world” per the Times, there is still a lot of work to do.
Being gay is against the law and considered a criminal act in many, many countries around the world, including 34 African nations, much of the Middle East, many Caribbean nations, and swaths of Oceania. While some of these laws are religious in nature, the effect is the same when the religion is the law of the land. Homosexual “criminals” face sentences ranging from fines to whipping, stoning, and imprisonment. In Afghanistan, Brunei, Mauritania, Yemen, Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran “offenders” face the death penalty, just for being gay.
Pink News has a comprehensive list of nations and punishments, and it’s clear that for people who value human rights and equality, the work is just getting started.