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India court reviews gay sex order

20 July 09 10:44 GMT

India's Supreme Court has refused to put on hold a landmark court judgement decriminalising gay sex in the country.

The court said the Delhi high court ruling had no "penal consequences", and asked the government to make clear its views on the issue within two months.

The 3 July ruling faces two challenges by people who want to have the 148-year-old, colonial-era law reinstated.

India's gay community and human rights activists welcomed the ruling, but it was opposed by religious leaders.

The high court ruling has been challenged by an astrologer and a yoga guru.

In his petition astrologer Suresh Kaushal says India's ancient scriptures and values do not permit homosexuality and argues that the recent court judgement would lead to the spread of HIV and Aids.

The Supreme Court has asked the government and human rights groups which campaigned against the law to respond to the petition. Two judges said they would resume deliberations on 14 September.

Delhi's high court described the colonial-era law as discriminatory and said gay sex between consenting adults should not be treated as a crime.

The ruling was widely and visibly welcomed by India's gay community, which said the judgement would help protect them from harassment and persecution.

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

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