In a landmark judgment, the Delhi High
Court of India has declared intercourse between two consenting
members of the same sex legal, the BBC reported.
The law that banned gay sex in India, a
holdover from British colonial rule, is known as Section 377 of the
Indian penal code.
The verdict comes on the heels of Gay
Pride Month where gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Indians
marched for greater rights in several large cities. As they marched
down main streets, the activists held rainbow flags and chanted “Down
with 377.” The visibility was remarkable considering gay activists
held their first parade just last year.
The court agreed with petitioners and
declared section 377 unconstitutional. Its decision will hold until
lawmakers choose to amend the law, a process already under advisement
by the Parliament.
Section 377 prescribed a harsh sentence
of 10 years to life in prison – longer than most rape or murder
sentences – for gays and lesbians.
The United Nations had urged the high
court to reverse the law, arguing such laws hinder HIV/AIDS
prevention efforts aimed at the gay community.
While being gay remains taboo in India,
acceptance is slowly increasing, especially in its big cities.