India Court Rejects Gay Petition
The government says public morals need to be protected
News, September 2, 2004
By Ayanjit Sen, BBC correspondent in Delhi
The high court in the Indian capital Delhi has dismissed
a legal petition that sought to legalise homosexuality.
The petition challenged laws which deem homosexual acts
to be “unnatural criminal behaviour”.
The court ruled that the “validity of a law” cannot
be challenged by anyone who is “not affected by it”.
The petition, filed by a voluntary organisation, argued
that it is wrong for homosexuality to be a punishable offence in 21st century
The petition was filed by the HIV and Aids organisation,
the Naz Foundation.
It alleged that the police use the law to harass
Indian society, by and large, disapproves of
Lawyers for Indian government
Lawyers for the government earlier argued in court that
homosexuality cannot be legalised in India because society strongly
disapproves of it.
“Indian society, by and large, disapproves of
homosexuality and justifies it being treated as a criminal offence even when
adults indulge in private,” said a government lawyer.
The government argued that that the abolition of the law
dealing with what they termed as “unnatural sex acts” could result in an
increase in delinquent behaviour.
“While the right to respect for private and family life
is undisputed, interference by public authority in the interest of public
safety and protection of health and morals is equally permissible.
“This is precisely what the law does,” said a
Legal experts are debating the court’s ruling that
petitions against the law cannot be brought by anyone who is “not affected
It is unclear what exactly this phrase means, but some
lawyers argue that public interest petitions should be filed by affected
people rather than by organisations representing them.
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