The Indian Supreme Court today refused to reconsider its December decision to reinstate the criminalization of homosexuality. Many had expected the Court to do so after major Indian and international leaders denounced the ruling.
Judges dismissed petitions from the government and rights activists who say the order was wrong. The Supreme Court judgement last month overturned a landmark 2009 Delhi High Court ruling decriminalising gay sex. The ruling is seen as a huge blow to gay rights and has been criticised by activists and government ministers. The Delhi High Court had described Section 377 – the colonial-era law which says a same-sex relationship is an “unnatural offence” and punishable by a 10-year jail term – as discriminatory and said gay sex between consenting adults should not be treated as a crime. But in its order of 11 December, the Supreme Court said it was up to parliament to change the law and the courts did not have the mandate to rule on it. The Supreme Court’s order was criticised by gay rights activists who called it “retrograde” and “disappointing” and on 20 December, the government asked the court to review its order saying it believed it “violated the principle of equality”.
Today’s decision was welcomed by religious and anti-gay groups.