LGBT Rights: Section 377 of IPC That Criminalises ‘Unnatural Sex’ May Be Scrapped
Union Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda has indicated that India could move towards abolishing Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises ‘unnatural sex’, which include gay liaisons. Even legalisation of gay marriages could be considered, he said. Gowda was speaking in the context of the US Supreme Court’s historic decision last week declaring gay marriages legal, and the positive reception to the verdict on social media in India.Gowda, a Lok Sabha MP from Bengaluru North, seems to think that a recent legislation on the rights of transgenders could provide a model for the Indian gay community. He pointed out that after several years of delay, a private member’s Bill on the rights of transgenders, moved in the Rajya Sabha by Tiruchi Siva of DMK, had received overwhelming response.” That Bill has been passed by the Rajya Sabha (in April) and everyone supported it. If that Bill is passed by the Lok Sabha and becomes an Act, Section 377 will become irrelevant,” Gowda said. BILL BEING TAKEN FORWARD IN LS Siva’s Bill is being taken forward by three Lok Sabha members with varied political leanings: Shobha Karandlaje of BJP, NK Premachandran of Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and Baijayant Panda of Biju Janata Dal (BJD). Karandlaje and Premachandran said the issue of Section 377 and gay rights was not on their radar.They said they want to help persons belonging to the transgender community, but frown upon lumping them together with lesbians, gays and bisexuals in the rainbow acronym of LGBT. “There is no question of (Section) 377 in our Bill. I have very different views on unnatural sex. It is a totally different matter. I only want transgenders to get their rights and be treated on a par with others in the society,” said Premachandran, the MP from Kollam in Kerala. Karandlaje, who also hails from Karnataka’s coastal belt and is the MP for Udupi-Chikmagalur, said the problems faced by transgenders had always troubled her and that she had tried to help them even when she was a minister in the BS Yeddyurappa government in the state.