India court refuses to review gay sex ban

Indian gay rights activists during a protest after the country's top court ruled that a colonial-era law criminalising homosexuality will remain in effect in India. Photo / AP
Indian gay rights activists during a protest after the country's top court ruled that a colonial-era law criminalising homosexuality will remain in effect in India. Photo / AP

India's top court has rejected a plea filed by the government and activist groups to review its shock ruling that reinstated a colonial-era ban on gay sex.

A Supreme Court bench dismissed petitions filed by the government and rights groups against a verdict last month that recriminalised gay sex and made it an offence punishable by up to life imprisonment.

"We see no reason to interfere with the order impugned. The review petitions are dismissed," Supreme Court Justices H L Dattu and S J Mukhopadhaya said in their decision.

In its December 11 ruling, the top court reversed a lower court verdict from 2009 that had set aside a 1860 law outlawing "carnal intercourse against the order of nature".

The Congress-led government filed the so-called review petition amid an outcry among activists against the December judgment.

It asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision to "avoid a grave miscarriage of justice to thousands of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) individuals".

The government added in its petition that the ruling upholding the more than 150-year-old law was "violative of the principle of equality".

Anand Grover, lawyer for the gay rights activist group Naz Foundation, said he was "shocked" by the Supreme Court's decision Tuesday to reject the review petitions.

But Grover told AFP that though "this battle may be lost, the war will still go on".

- AAP

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