On 11 December, the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community was left in despair after the Supreme Court overturned a landmark 2009 Delhi High Court ruling which had decriminalised gay sex. In what many observers said was a “redundant” move, the top court reinstated the colonial-era Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. According to Section 377, a 153-year-old colonial-era law, a same-sex relationship is an “unnatural offence” and punishable by a 10- year jail term.
Many in the media and top gay rights activists, such as popular author Vikram Seth, publicly opposed the court’s decision, saying it will force the LGBT community to move “back into the closet”. A battered-looking Seth featured on the cover of the India Today magazine issue as a mark of protest. He is shown holding a slate-board that says “NOT A CRIMINAL”. Some papers saw the verdict as a measure to “deny basic human rights” to a section of the country’s population. The Indian Express said the ruling is “sad and shameful” because Section 377 is “mostly used to harass, humiliate and deny freedom to consenting homosexual adults”.