ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Section 377 and the Dignity of Indian Homosexuals

This paper seeks to determine the extent and manner in which the proscription of "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 makes criminals out of homosexuals. Section 377 is not merely a law about anal sex alone, but applies to homosexuality in general. The lack of a consentbased distinction in the offence has made homosexual sex synonymous to rape and equated homosexuality with sexual perversity. Section 377 is the biggest affront to the dignity and humanity of a substantial minority of Indian citizens. The decriminalisation of sodomy will contribute directly to restoring the dignity of homosexuals and allow the gay movement to emerge from the shadows.

Is the criminal proscription under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 confined to certain sexual acts or homosexuality in general? This question is inspired by the dismissal of a recent petition challenging the constitutionality of this the anti-sodomy provision of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereafter S 377). The challenge to the law was brought by Naz India, an NGO working on health-related issues of men who have sex with men (MSM).

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