US Supreme Court Leaves Intact Mississippi Law Curbing Gay Rights

A three-judge Super Court Constitutional Bench today said it will revisit the 2013 verdict that criminalised sexual activities "against the order of nature", including homosexual sexual activities.

"The top court's judgment upholding validity of Section 377 appears to hurt the sexual preferences of individuals", said the three-judge bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud.

"A section of people or individuals who exercise their choice should never remain in a state of fear", the court said, in response to a case lodged by LBGTI activists arguing the ban has put them at constant risk of arrest.

With the apex court referring the matter to a larger bench, here is a quick recap of the controversial law's recent history through five must-know latest developments.

In 2012, the Delhi High Court struck down Section 377 of IPC but it was set aside by the Supreme Court in the 2013 judgement on the grounds that it is the job of the legislature to do away with it, and it is not the job of the court to legislate.

Some religious conservatives are celebrating the Supreme Court's decision regarding the law, which was strongly supported by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant. The petition has also alleged an issue bias by the court against the LGBT community through its references such as "the so-called rights of LGBT persons" in its 2013 judgment. "The time has come that either the courts must read down Section 377 or the government should repeal it from the IPC".

In August 2017, the Supreme Court, in a landmark verdict, declared right to privacy a fundamental right, ushering in hope for the gay and LGBT community.

A law in MS called the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, enacted in April 2016, notes that the state cannot punish citizens, public servants, businesses, and religious institutions who oppose same-sex marriage, homosexuality and transgender rights. "Choice can't be allowed to cross boundaries of law, but confines of law can't trample or curtail the inherent right embedded in an individual under Article 21 of the Constitution", the bench observed.

"Everybody has equal right to live life the way they want", Dev said. The LGBTQ community remains in harm's way every single day that this law is in effect, and we are committed to working with our legal partners to strike this draconian measure once and for all. It also asked the Centre to include them in the OBC quota.

  • Rogelio Becker