Last edited: February 14, 2005

India Considers Abolishing Sodomy Laws

The Advocate, June 27, 2002

Gay rights activists in India expressed hope Wednesday that the government will soon strike down laws that make homosexual acts between consenting adults punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

"Draconian Indian laws governing homosexuality are being challenged in the Delhi high court," said Shaleen Rakesh, a member of the gay rights group Naz Foundation. "There have been several hearings, and we are confident the government will respond positively by amending the law." Rakesh said the foundation is expecting a change of heart by the court or the government by the next hearing, on August 26.

The Naz Foundation filed a petition challenging the sodomy laws in December after some of its members were harassed by police for handing out safe-sex brochures in northern India. Mukul Rohtagi, the government legal representative, told the Delhi high court on Monday that the state is "examining the legal, social, and ethical aspects of decriminalizing homosexual acts among consenting adults."

The Indian law on homosexuality was enacted by British colonial rulers in 1860 and prescribes up to 10 years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both for anyone found guilty of "carnal intercourse against order of nature."

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