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India’s top court reviews British-era ban on homosexuality

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NEW DELHI: India’s top court yesterday began reviewing petitions against a colonial-era ban on homosexuality, in the latest chapter of a legal tussle between social and religious conservatives and more liberal Indians.

Section 377 of the penal code, a relic from 1860s British legislation, bans gay acts as “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” and allows for jail terms of up to life, although prosecutions are rare.

In 2009 the Delhi High Court effectively decriminalised gay sex, saying a ban violated fundamental rights, but the Supreme Court reinstated it in 2013 after religious groups successfully appealed.

The Indian Supreme Court said the high court had overstepped its authority and that the responsibility for changing the law rested with lawmakers not the courts. Efforts to introduce legislation, however, came to nothing.–Agencies

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