India unbans gay sex

THE prudish wording of India’s colonial-era penal code of 1860 has long cast a baleful shadow over gay people. Section 377 banned “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal”. This was taken to bar homosexual intercourse along with bestiality and incest. Even heterosexuals could be prosecuted for enjoying oral or anal sex.

The ban on gay sex was struck down by a Delhi court in 2009. It was then reinstated by the Supreme Court in 2013, which said parliament should deal with the matter. However, on September 6th the court reversed itself. A broader bench ruled, to general applause from Indian liberals, that the law does not, after all, criminalise homosexuality. The decision is final.

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