Why India's Gay Sex Ban Shocked India

Few thought conservative push actually had a chance of success

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 12, 2013 6:52 AM CST | Updated Dec 12, 2013 7:57 AM CST

(Newser) – India's supreme court yesterday ruled to reinstate a colonial-era law that makes gay sex illegal and punishable by up to 10 years in jail—and few actually expected that outcome. Protesters gathered in Delhi last night, armed with rainbow flags and banners reading "I am gay, punish me," and "My love is not a crime," reports the Guardian. Fueling some of the outrage: surprise. Activists had anticipated that the court—known for its "broadly progressive judgments" that tend to favor the "poor and marginalized"—would simply approve the 2009 court ruling that repealed the more than century-old gay sex ban.

And it's unclear whether the government will step in. Though the Guardian explains that the ruling party has only "limited political capital," which few think it'll spend on gay rights, Law Minister Kapil Sibal tells the BBC that "all options are being considered" to reinstate the 2009 ruling. And momentum is building, with UN human rights chief Navi Pillay today issuing a statement blasting yesterday's ruling as violating "the rights to privacy and to non-discrimination enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which India has ratified." The move "represents a significant step backwards for India and a blow for human rights," she said. What she'd like to see, per Reuters: the case reheard.

An Indian gay rights activist holds up a placard during a protest after the country's top court ruled that a colonial-era law criminalizing homosexuality will remain in effect in India in New Delhi.
An Indian gay rights activist holds up a placard during a protest after the country's top court ruled that a colonial-era law criminalizing homosexuality will remain in effect in India in New Delhi.   (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Gay rights activists display a rainbow-colored flag as they march in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013.
Gay rights activists display a rainbow-colored flag as they march in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013.   (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)
An Indian gay rights activists cries during a protest against a court ruling in India in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013.
An Indian gay rights activists cries during a protest against a court ruling in India in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013.   (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
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