Section 377: LGBT community forced to live in fear, says Supreme Court

File photo: Supreme Court of India. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Jul 12, 2018, 02.02 PM (IST)

The Supreme Court said Thursday the the LGBT community is forced to live in fear. It added that because of family and societal pressures, the LGBT community is "forced marry the opposite sex and it leads to bi-sexuality and mental trauma". 

The court is hearing petitions against Section 377, which says homosexuality is a crime. The petitions are being heard by a five-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. 

Lawyer Ashok Desai, appearing for one of the petitioners, told the court that "homosexuality is not new to our Indian culture". And that "many countries have accepted homosexuality".

Also read: Indian Psychiatric Society says homosexuality not a psychiatric disorder

It was Justice DY Chandrachud who said "there is deep rooted trauma involved in the society, which forces the LGBT community to be in fear." 

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Justice Indu Malhotra said that "because of family and societal pressures, they (the LGBT community) are forced to marry the opposite sex and it leads to bi-sexuality and mental trauma."

Malhotra added that the "community feels inhibited to go for medical aid due to prejudices involved against them." 

Section 377 had been struck down by the Delhi High Court in 2009. The court called it "unconstitutional". 

But the judgement was set aside by the Supreme Court in 2013, which said the onus to change the law lay with Parliament. 

In January this year, the country's top court agreed to hear a clutch of petitions which said the law had led to an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. 

On Wednesday, the Centre told the Supreme Court it would leave the matter of deciding the constitutionality of Section 377 to the "wisdom of the court". The Supreme Court replied that, subject to arguments, it intended to rule that people should not be prosecuted for having gay sex. 

To which the government replied that the court should stick to ruling on Section 377, but not go any further into questions of, say, marriage or property rights. 

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