Congress leader Shashi Tharoor recently met Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, expressing that he wants his home state Kerala to set a precedent to the rest of India by decriminalising Section 377 (homosexuality) in the state.
Last year, Tharoor had sought to introduce a private member’s bill seeking decriminalisation of homosexuality. However, his bid failed twice in three months as Lok Sabha voted against the introduction of the bill. The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2016, sought to amend Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises homosexuality.
The Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram subsequently blamed the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party for using its brute majority in the Lok Sabha for thwarting his attempt in bringing amendment. He had also described it “religious bigotry” of the saffron party that had disallowed discussion on his private Bill to amend the “colonial era” Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.
Overturning a verdict of the Delhi High Court that had set aside Section 377 of the IPC in 2009, the Supreme Court had asked the government to take a view on the controversial subject in December 2013. The High Court had ruled that Section 377 was unconstitutional.
In February 2016, the Supreme Court agreed to revisit the law criminalising homosexuality and observed that the issue ‘involves very large and significant constitutional issues.’ It also referred to a five-judge constitutional bench its 2013 ruling that upheld a law making gay sex an offence punishable by 10 years to a life-time sentence.
NGO Naz Foundation was one of a host of organisations which submitted petitions challenging the 2013 judgment of the Supreme Court.