India's Supreme Court will reconsider the nation's ban on gay sex

Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy. PTI file

On Monday, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra made a decision to re-examine the constitutional validity of Section 377 and said the matter would be referred to a larger bench. "Because of that, we are pleased that the Supreme Court declined to take up these baseless challenges, which misrepresented the law's sole goal of ensuring that Mississippians don't live in fear of losing their careers or their businesses simply for affirming marriage as a husband-wife union". The state enacted its law less than a year after the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

The Mississippi law allowing government workers and businesses to deny services to LGBT people by claiming religious objections will stand because the U.S. Supreme Court has decided against hearing an appeal. "The court has to examine [the] constitutional validity in considering whether the prohibition imposed on two adults accounts for violation of their freedom at the same time legitimising may amount to encouraging immorality", party MP Majeed Memon said. Dating back to the 1800s, Section 377 criminalises anal and oral sex, referring to it as "unnatural sex", and states that it is "against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal".

LGBT rights groups called the law the "worst in the nation" and the Supreme Court's decision a "missed opportunity".

On a related issue, the Supreme Court is due to rule by the end of June whether a Colorado baker was within his constitutional rights to refuse to make a wedding cake for a gay couple on the basis of his conservative Christian beliefs.

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All India Mahila Congress President Sushmita Dev also welcomed the top court's decision saying,"Everybody has equal right to live life the way they want".

In the April 2014 verdict, hailed by gender rights activists, the apex court directed the government to declare transgenders a "third gender" along with male and female.

"The 5th Circuit was right to find that those opposing this law haven't been harmed and, therefore, can't try to take it down", Kevin Theriot, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a statement. It also includes a maximum punishment of life imprisonment. Underlining the need to bring them into the mainstream, the verdict by a bench of Justices KS Radhakrishnan and AK Sikri said transgenders should have all rights under the law, including marriage, adoption, divorce, succession, and inheritance.

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