India Decriminalizes Gay Sex

Posted On: July 20, 2009

On 2 July, New Delhi High Court decriminalized homosexual intercourse between consenting adults, by striking down section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. This law labels gay sex to be an “unnatural offense”, punishable with up to ten years in prison.

Human Rights Watch and other groups urged the Government not to appeal against the High Court’s ruling and called on the Indian parliament to rewrite Section 377 as soon as possible.

More on gay life in India.

Within days, Singapore said it will not decriminalise gay sex but the courts have the power to decide how the law, Section 377, is applied. Singapore has an additional Section 377A of the Penal Code which specifically deems sex between men a crime. Both countries share the same Penal Code, inherited from the colonial British.

Singapore Law Minister K Shanmugam said: “We have the law. We say it won’t be enforced. Is it totally clear? We, sometimes in these things, have to accept a bit of messiness. And the way the society is going, we don’t think it’s fair for us to prosecute people who say that they are homosexual.”

No, it is not clear. If a law is not be enforced, why have it? And why leave it to interpretation? Why the wait? Is it for fear of losing support? Does it come down to reminding in power and votes?

The internet community went so far as to call Singapore a fool. Yawning Bread summed it up well: “Now even India, which, socially, is probably a more conservative place than Singapore, and whose justice system we love to laugh at for its inefficiency, has made us look like confused, blinkered, gutless fools.”

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