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For the second time in three months, Lok Sabha Friday voted against the introduction of a private member’s Bill, sought to be introduced by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor for decriminalising homosexuality. The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2016, sought to amend Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that criminalises homosexuality.
As Tharoor sought the leave of the House to introduce the Bill, Nishikant Dubey, BJP member from Godda (Jharkhand), demanded a division. As Speaker Sumitra Mahajan put Tharoor’s motion to vote, it was defeated by 58 to 14. Of the 73 people present, one abstained.
Tharoor later blamed the BJP for using its “brute majority” in the Lok Sabha to thwart his attempt. The Kerala MP called it “religious bigotry” of the ruling party that had disallowed discussion on his private Bill to amend the “colonial era” Section 377 of the IPC, adding that Parliament was a place for open deliberations on all issues.
He used the opportunity to voice his anguish while moving another Bill on the Rights of Transgender Persons when the House was transacting Private Members’ Business. On the rejection of his Bill at the introduction stage, Tharoor said it was “a low in the proud annals of Indian democracy” where “brute majority prevailed over the rights of a member” to bring the measure. He regretted that the House was not allowed to deliberate on a law which was framed by the British rulers.
The Supreme Court, in December 2013, had overturned a verdict of the Delhi High Court that had set aside Section 377 of the IPC, asking the government to take a view on the controversial subject of decriminalising homosexuality. In 2009, the Delhi HC had ruled that Section 377 was unconstitutional.
Tharoor’s previous attempt to introduce a similar Bill in the Lok Sabha on December 18 was also voted out. With PTI inputs