Page last updated at 16:56 GMT, Thursday, 2 July 2009 17:56 UK

Gay sex ruling: Views from India

Gay rights march in India

An Indian court has ruled that homosexual intercourse between consenting adults is not a criminal act, overturning a federal law dating from the colonial era.

People in India give their views on the ruling and the impact they think it might have on Indian society.

Shiv Prakash Maurya, student, Allahabad

I don't agree with the court ruling. There is no homosexuality in India, it's part of Western culture.

The legalising of homosexuality means that we are losing our Indian identity. That's not a good decision because it will increase the immorality in our country.

When two men hold hands, that can only be brotherly relationship.

I come from a rural part of India. The majority of the people in my village don't even know what gay means.

I was completely unaware that such a thing existed until three years ago when I went to university in Delhi.

You'll find that people in rural India are against this ruling while people in the big cities are more supportive.

Siddharth Singh, 21, NGO worker, New Delhi
Siddharth Singh
Siddharth: It will take a long time for attitudes to change

I welcome the court ruling - we are finally moving in the right direction. Homosexual people, at least legally, can now be equal to the rest of us.

I've met many gay and lesbian people through my work. They've shared some of the difficulties they had to live with - they couldn't go to the doctor for example, out of fear that they might be reported and arrested.

I've heard of incidents at gay gatherings where police were asking for money in exchange for keeping quiet.

India is still a very conservative society and I think that it will take another couple of decades for attitudes to change and for social equality for everyone to be achieved.

That will take even longer in rural parts of India.

It is sad that hours after the announcement, various religious groups have started to protest, denouncing Western influences and predicting the destruction of Indian family values.

I fear that the Indian government might buckle under the pressure from such religious groups, as they form a big part of their vote bank.

Susham Gupta, 37, psychiatrist, from Calcutta now in London

The court ruling is a courageous - and a long delayed move. If India wants to be seen as a modern democracy, it can't hold back on such social issues any longer pandering to those with bigoted and uneducated views.

The first, and smallest, hurdle is overcome, but the bigger challenge now will be to bring about a change in social attitudes.

I fear that things will get worse before they get better. India is a complicated society and there might be a backlash. This development might bring out people's anxieties. Gay people may have to go underground, as there are no organisations and networks in place to provide support to them in this process.

It's too late for us, but the next generation will hopefully have a better chance
Susham Gupta

I left India 10 years ago primarily because of my sexuality. I've seen how my gay friends ended up in unhappy marriages, being forced to lead a dual life.

I was luckier than others because my liberal, middle-class family was understanding and supportive when I came out to them.

But I found that it was impossible to have a gay relationship in India. It was a toxic and extremely lonely environment. I felt extreme lack of self-confidence and a pressure to be something else.

Harassments are common as are views that gays are freaks. Others think that being gay is a lifestyle choice. Believe me, it's not.

I go back to India often and I see signs of improvement. I've heard the word "gay" being used as a light-hearted mild offence, which shows a slight shift of perceptions.

It will be a slow process and it's too late for us, but the next generation will hopefully have a better chance.

Dr PV Cherian, medical doctor, Chennai

I am not very happy about this ruling.

I am a Christian believer and I think homosexuality is a sickness affecting men and women, that is increasing these days in our affluent materialistic society.

God intended us to enjoy normal sex between faithful heterosexual married partners.

Discrimination is not a good thing and I everyone should enjoy freedom of choice. But freedom of choice is a dangerous thing, because sometimes we choose the wrong things. Freedom is harmful.

I pray for homosexual people to realise their mistake. They need to be educated.

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