Section 377 verdict: The world India has left

Until the Supreme Court read down IPC Section 377, India was one of 72 countries that treated same-sex relationships as a crime. It is now set to join 124 other countries where such relationships are legal.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: September 8, 2018 10:41:10 am
Section 377 verdict: The world India has left A 2017 report by ILGA says that the death penalty is in force in 8 countries under Section 377 (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Until the Supreme Court read down IPC Section 377, India was one of 72 countries that treated same-sex relationships as a crime. It is now set to join 124 other countries where such relationships are legal. This count is by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), a federation of 1,200 member organisations from 132 countries. A 2017 report by ILGA says that the death penalty is in force in 8 countries (4 at national level, 2 in certain provinces, and 2 where non-state actors carry out the death sentence). Another 5 countries —including Pakistan and Afghanistan — have provisions for the death penalty but are not known to actually implement it, according to ILGA.

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Section 377: Laws in the neighbourhood

Afghanistan: Article 130 of the Constitution allows recourse to be made to Sharia law, which prohibits same-sex sexual activity with a maximum of the death penalty. This penalty is not known to be actually implemented, according to a 2017 report by the forum ILGA.

Bangladesh: Its Penal Code has Section 377, which punishes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” with a maximum of life imprisonment.

Bhutan: Penal Code Section 213 defines “unnatural sex” as “sodomy or any other sexual conduct that is against the order of nature”. Section 214 grades the offence of unnatural sex as “a petty misdemeanour” (maximum jail term less than 1 year, minimum 1 month).

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Maldives: 2014 Penal Code prohibited same-sex intercourse. In 2015, new Penal Code transposed Sharia laws. For men, punishment is banishment for 9-12 months or whipping of 10-30 strokes; for women, it is house arrest for 9-12 months.

Myanmar: Section 377; sex “against the order of nature” is punishable with “transportation for life” or with imprisonment up to 10 years.

Nepal: Its first same-sex marriage was registered last month. Former Chief Justice Kalyan Shrestha had ordered that same-sex marriage be legalised. A new criminal code is in place; previous one had Section 377. The Constitution (2015) recognises rights of sexual minorities.

Read | Section 377 verdict | Struck down, restored, struck down: 3 rulings over 9 years

Pakistan: Section 377 makes sex “against the order of nature” punishable with imprisonment up to life. Under the Hudood Ordinances of 1979, kidnapping for “unnatural lust” is punishable with a maximum of the death penalty. According to ILGA, this penalty is not actually implemented.

Sri Lanka: Penal Code, amended in 1995, punishes sex “against the order of nature”’ maximum 10 years in jail.

(Source: ILGA report of 2017; input by Yubaraj Ghimire in Kathmandu)

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