April 06, 2020
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Decriminalisation Of Homosexuality: Timeline Of Events From 2001-2018

The Supreme Court judgement was preceded by a long list of battles that were fought in the courts while challenging the criminality of same-sex relationships.

Decriminalisation Of Homosexuality: Timeline Of Events From 2001-2018
Members of the LGBT community dance to celebrate after the country's top court struck down a colonial-era law that made homosexual acts punishable by up to 10 years in prison, in Bangalore
AP Photo
Decriminalisation Of Homosexuality: Timeline Of Events From 2001-2018

A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously decriminalised part of the 158-year-old colonial law under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which criminalises homosexuality.

The Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra termed the part as irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary. 

The judgement however was preceded by a long list of battles that were fought in the courts while challenging the criminality of same-sex relationships.

Following is the chronology of events leading to the historic decision of the Supreme Court.

 2001: Naaz Foundation, an NGO fighting for gay rights, files PIL in Delhi HC seeking legalisation of gay sex among consenting adults.

Sep 2004: HC dismisses the PIL; Gay right activists file review petition.

Nov 3 2004: HC dismisses review petition.

Dec 2004: Gay rights activists approach SC against the HC order.

Apr 3, 2006: SC remands the case back to HC, directs it to reconsider the matter on merit.

Oct 4 2006: HC allows senior BJP leader B P Singhal's plea, opposing decriminalising gay sex, to be impleaded in the case.

Sep 18, 2008: Centre seeks more time to take stand on the issue after contradictory stand between Home and Health ministries over decriminalisation of homosexuality. HC refuses the plea and final arguments in the case begin.

Sep 25, 2008: Gay rights' activists contend that the government cannot infringe upon their fundamental right to equality by decriminalising homosexual acts on the ground of morality.

Sep 26, 2008: The Centre says gay sex is immoral and a reflection of a perverse mind and its decriminalisation would lead to moral degradation of society.

Oct 15, 2008: HC pulls up the Centre for relying on religious texts to justify ban on gay sex and asks it to come up with scientific reports to justify it.

Nov, 2008: Govt in its written submission before HC says judiciary should refrain from interfering in the issue as it is basically for Parliament to decide.

Nov 7, 2008: HC reserves verdict on pleas filed by gay rights activists seeking decriminalisation of homosexual acts.

Jul 2, 2009: HC allows plea of gay rights activists and legalises sexual activity among consenting adults of same sex.

Jul 9, 2009: Delhi astrologer challenges HC verdict in SC. Several other pleas challenging the judgment also filed.

Feb 15, 2012: SC begins final day-to-day hearing in the case.

Dec 11, 2013: SC sets aside 2009 Delhi HC order which had decriminalised gay sex.

Dec 20, 2013: Centre files review petition in SC seeking re-examination of its verdict.

Jan 28, 2014: SC refuses to review its verdict on criminalising gay sex, dismisses pleas of Centre, activists.

Apr 3, 2014: SC agrees to consider an open court hearing on curative petitions filed by gay rights activists against its verdict criminalising homosexuality.

Feb 2, 2016: SC refers curative pleas on homosexuality to five-judge bench.

June 29, 2016: SC refers the plea of celebrities like dancer N S Jauhar, chef Ritu Dalmia and hotelier Aman Nath, for quashing of section 377 of the IPC, to a bench already seized of the matter.

Aug 24, 2017: SC declares right to privacy a fundamental right under the Constitution, also observes that "sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy".

Jan 8, 2018: SC agrees to reconsider its 2013 decision and refers to a larger bench the plea challenging 377 of the IPC. Later, 20 former and current students of the IITs join the fight against section 377 of IPC.

July 9, 2018: SC refuses to adjourn proposed hearing by a five-judge Constitution bench on a batch of petitions challenging its verdict that had re-criminalised consensual carnal sex between two adults.

July 10, 2018: Five-judge constitution bench commences hearing on batch of pleas.

July 11, 2018: Centre leaves it to the wisdom of SC to decide the validity of Section 377.

July 12, 2018: SC rejects demand for a referendum over constitutional validity of Section 377 saying it would not go by majority opinion.

July 17, 2018: SC reserves verdict saying that the courts cannot wait for a majoritarian government to decide on enacting, amending or striking down a law if it violates fundamental rights.

Sep 6, 2018: Constitution bench unanimously decriminalises part of Section 377 of the IPC which criminalises consensual unnatural sex, saying it violates the right to equality.


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