BBC Home > BBC News > South Asia

India media hails gay sex ruling

3 July 09 04:59 GMT

The Indian media has hailed a ruling by a court ruling decriminalising homosexuality in the country.

The ruling on Thursday overturns a 148-year-old colonial law which describes a same-sex relationship as an "unnatural offence".

Homosexual acts were punishable by a 10-year prison sentence.

Many people in India regard same-sex relationships as illegitimate. Rights groups have long argued that the law contravened human rights.

India's Gay Day, headlined The Times Of India

"..this historic ruling could act as a catalyst, encouraging our legislators to shed their blinkers and take a more progressive view on the issue," the newspaper said.

"In 21st century India, it is perverse to penalise adults for their sexual choices."

'Giant step'

Describing the ruling as a "giant step towards globalisation", the newspaper said India had become the 127th country "to take the guilt out of homosexuality".

It's okay to be gay, headlined Hindustan Times

Section 377 of the colonial Indian Penal Code, defines homosexual acts as "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" and made them illegal.

"It took 150 years for us India - and 42 years after Britain itself had made homosexuality legal- to figure out that we didn't have a problem with same-sex relationships," Hindustan Times said.

The newspaper said "homosexuality and heterosexuality aren't divisive, emotive issues in Middle India - sexuality is, especially when it concerns women and their perceived behaviour in a still male-dominated, anti-woman society at large".

Sexuality Equality, headlined The Indian Express

"Can a modern democracy intrude upon the private domain of consenting adults on the grounds of 'moral indignation'?," the newspaper wondered.

The newspaper said that the Delhi ruling "may not be the last word on the matter".

"But the government must read it for its enlightened constitutionalism".

Writing in the same newspaper, urban policy analyst Gautam Bhan said the ruling was victory for democratic India.

"The judgement should be seen by all of us, gay or straight, no matter what we think of sexuality and homosexuality, as a victory for a secular, democratic, constitutional and free India," he wrote.

"We should all be proud".

Gay and Finally Legal, headlined Mail Today

"Remember that in the end this is a judicial pronouncement that should serve as law only in the absence of legislation," the newspaper said.

"An overhaul of the law lies in the domain of the Parliament".

DNA said that the ruling was the "first step" in a "long battle ahead".

".. there will be reactions against this judgment. Religious groups have protested. But while their right to a point of view is acceptable, to bring religion into this debate is wholly unnecessary - this has to be a social and legal debate."

Sexual revolution in India headlined The Asian Age

"The symbolic significance of this judgement is beyond measure," a writer on the newspaper said.

Related BBC sites

*