ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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No Going Back

The Supreme Court's rulings on sexual minorities have had a churning effect.

Within a span of four months, three different rulings of the Supreme Court (SC) on the rights of sexual minorities and that of religious minorities to adopt children have led to discussions and debates as perhaps never before. While the December 2013 ruling upheld the criminalising of consensual sex between adult homosexuals, the more recent one recognised transgenders as the third gender with the right to claim a formal identity and thus the right to marry, own property, inherit and adopt. In February this year, the apex court pronounced that all Indian citizens, irrespective of their religious identity, have the right to adopt a child under the Juvenile Justice Act. These rulings on two of Indian society’s most sensitive topics – sexuality and religion – have brought to the fore issues beyond their immediate impact.

When the Delhi High Court (HC) read down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which criminalised homosexual acts between consenting adults, the reaction from almost all religious heads was one of indignation and condemnation. This was matched by the voices from some political parties which called granting legal “equality” to homosexuality with heterosexuality was an extreme gesture. What would this do to social morality based on heterosexual marriages and family values, they asked. These voices also argued that if, as the HC held, constitutional morality outweighed arguments of public morality even if the latter enjoyed majority support, then why not usher in a uniform civil code (UCC) as directed by the Constitution?

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