INDIA: Supreme Court Ruling On Privacy Opens Door To Overturn 2013 Ruling Recriminalizing Homosexuality

The Hindustan Times reports:

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday Indians have a constitutional right to privacy, a verdict that could have wide-reaching implications on broader civil rights issues, including homosexuality and prohibition.

Experts have said the ‘right to privacy’ case would be a test of our democracy, with the possibility of citizens challenging laws based of individual rights. Privacy is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, and the government has argued that people cannot expect an absolute right to privacy.

Activists have argued that Section 377, which criminalises homosexuality, violates the Indian citizens’ fundamental rights to equality and to life with dignity and privacy. On Thursday, Chief Justice JS Khehar said privacy was “protected as an intrinsic part of Article 21 that protects life and liberty”.

In its judgment, the SC said: “It is an individual’s choice as to who enters his house, how he lives and in what relationship. The privacy of the home must protect the family, marriage, procreation and sexual orientation which are all important aspects of dignity.”

NDTV reports:

The court said right to privacy is valid even in the context of Section 377 — a law that criminalises what was once seen as unnatural sex. Sexual orientation, the court said, is an “essential component of identity” and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population are “real rights founded on sound constitutional doctrine”.

Today, the bench said the Delhi High Court had “erroneously relied upon international precedents in its anxiety to protect the so-called rights of LGBT persons”. The rights of gay and LGBT population “cannot be construed to be ‘so-called rights’, the court said, adding their rights are not “so-called” but real rights under the Constitution.

After the 2013 judgment from the top court, a a number of celebrities and gay personalities had asked the court for a rethink. The court had referred it to the Chief Justice. The petition, which challenges Section 377 on the ground that it violates the privacy of people is still pending.