Page last updated at 11:05 GMT, Thursday, 9 July 2009 12:05 UK

Challenge to India gay sex ruling

By Sanjoy Majumder
BBC News, Delhi

Gay rights march in India
Homosexuals face discrimination in India

A landmark ruling by an Indian court which said that gay sex should not be treated as a crime has been challenged.

An astrologer has filed a petition in the country's Supreme Court asking for the 148-year-old law to be reinstated.

The court has now asked the government and campaign groups to file a response to the petition.

Last week's ruling by the Delhi high court was widely hailed by India's gay community and rights activists but opposed by religious leaders.

In a petition to the Supreme Court Suresh Kaushal said India's ancient scriptures and values did not permit homosexuality and argued that the recent court judgement would lead to the spread of HIV and Aids.

The Chief Justice of India, K Balakrishnan, who heard the petition, said the colonial-era law had rarely been used against homosexuals and mainly targeted paedophilia.

He asked the government and rights groups which had campaigned against the law to respond to the petition.

The landmark Delhi High Court ruling last week described the law as discriminatory and said that gay sex between consenting adults should not be treated as a crime.

The ruling was widely and visibly welcomed by India's gay community who said it would protect them from harassment and persecution.

But religious groups from the Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities have come out in strongly opposition.

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