A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had reserved its verdict on July 17 after hearing various stakeholders, including gay rights activists. "We need a lot of advocacy to spread awareness on the issue that gay people have equal rights like any other individual in India". In Delhi, 183 cases were registered under Section 377 and in Maharashtra 170 such cases were registered.
As the news spread, the streets outside the courthouse erupted in cheers as opponents of the law danced and waved flags. "What happens in our bedroom is left to us". It said the State can not persecute people and decide the boundaries between what is permissible or not, holding that Section 377 IPC was based on "deep-rooted stereotypes of the society" that was violative of fundamental rights to equality and life with dignity.
"We cannot change history but can pave a way for a better future", said Justice D.Y. Chandrachud.
Altogether, 4,690 cases were registered between 2014 and 2016 under Section 377, which criminalised sexual activities "against the order of nature". The five petitioners who challenged the law said it was discriminatory and led to gays living in fear of harassment and persecution.
"The sodomy law that became the model everywhere, from Uganda to Singapore to the United Kingdom itself, premiered in India, becoming the confusing and dehumanizing standard replicated around the world", she said in a statement, saying "today's historic outcome will reverberate across India and the world".
"Social stigma will go if criminality of gay sex under Section 377 goes".More news: Sergio Ramos wants the world to fall in love with Spain again
Gay sex is considered taboo by many in socially conservative India, and despite opposition to lifting the ban from some lawmakers, activists had hoped the ban would be lifted.
Transgendered people known as "hijras", for example, have always been a common sight in India. Sex with animal will however remain criminal. But many gay people still face isolation and persecution, and the court's ruling will do little to change life on the ground for millions of people.
Homosexuality is not a crime, the RSS said Thursday, while maintaining that it does not support same-sex marriage as it was "not natural". The Centre, which had initially sought the adjournment for filing its response to the petitions, had later left to the wisdom of the court the issue of the legality of the penal provision with regard to the aspects of criminalising consensual unnatural sex between two consenting adults.
The ruling follows almost 25 years of waffling by India's judicial system on the issue, including the striking down of the law in 2009, followed by an overturning of that decision four years later by the Supreme Court.
Although a significant win of paramount importance and probably a first in providing the LGBTQ community rights and protection in their own state, we still have a very long road ahead of us. It opens the flood gates for securing other civil rights. And we'll fight for our rights, definitely.