A man holds a protest sign at an LGBT Pride event in New Delhi  in 2010. Photo Credit: Noopur28, via Wikipedia. Licensed CC.
A man holds a protest sign at an LGBT Pride event in New Delhi in 2010.
Photo Credit: Noopur28, via Wikipedia. Licensed CC.

India court upholds sodomy law

NEW DELHI — Reversing a 2009 order by a lower court, India’s Supreme Court on Dec. 11 upheld that nation’s colonial-era law criminalizing homosexuality.

The court said lawmakers, not judges, should change the law.

Activists in India reacted with surprise.

“We cannot be forced back into the closet,” said activist Gautam Bhan. “We are not backing off from our fight against discrimination.”

The current law dates back the 1860s during British colonial rule in South Asia. It prohibits “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal.” Those found guilty of violating the law can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

A lower court ruling in 2009 said the law violated fundamental human rights and overturned it. That ruling resulted in a rare alliance between conservative groups like the All India Muslim Law Board and Christian and Hindu leaders.

An Indian legislator has said the issue may come before Parliament.

India is the world’s largest democracy and, with the ruling, re-criminalizes homosexuality for 17 percent of the world’s total population.

Seventy-seven nations across the globe penalize homosexuality. In some, violations can result in death. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned its crimes against nature statutes in the 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas.

Report details Ethiopian struggle

katiejmbakerNewsweek published an in-depth report by writer Katie J.M. Baker on Dec. 13, exploring the current struggle for LGBT equality in the African nation of Ethiopia. There, homosexuality is illegal and punishable by prison time, but Baker reports that U.S. and European Christian organizations are funding efforts for harsher laws, similar to those proscribing lengthier prison sentences or death for homosexual behavior passed in nations like Uganda. Activism for LGBT equality is also illegal, and many non-governmental organizations fear discussing other issues like health and HIV prevention with LGBT residents. Read Baker’s full report online atbit.ly/1fvSVhK.



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Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.