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In historic ruling, India just decriminalized gay sex

In historic ruling, India just decriminalized gay sex
[Photo: Yannis Papanastasopoulos/Unsplash]

The country’s top court has overturned a 157-year-old law in the country that criminalized gay sex, reports the Washington Post. All five judges on India’s Supreme Court unanimously issued a ruling striking down the law. The ruling marks an historic turning point for gay rights in India–the world’s largest democracy. Speaking to a packed courtroom just after the ruling, India’s Chief Justice Dipak Misra said:

“Respect for individual choice is the essence of liberty. This freedom can only be fulfilled when each of us realizes that the LGBT community possesses equal rights.”

Though the 157-year-old section of the Indian penal code that criminalized gay sex was rarely used to prosecute people, its statute empowered the intolerant to threaten, blackmail, and harass LGBT people in the country.

Today’s ruling is all the more remarkable considering the same court upheld the law only five years ago–showing just how much support for equal rights can advance in a short amount of time. As another of India’s Supreme Court justices, Dhananjaya Chandrachud, said: “It is difficult to right the wrong of history, but we can certainly set the course for the future.”

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