As soon as the crime of consensual homosexual sex ceases, related issues such as social stigma and discrimination will also go against the LGBTQ community, the Supreme Court said today.

In view of the fact that, over the years, Indian society has created an environment that has led to deep-seated discrimination against the Community, a five-judge constitutional bank that has petitioned to decriminalize 158-year-old colonial law under Section 377 of the Federal Constitutional Court hears IPC, said discrimination against such people also has a negative impact on their mental health.

At the judge's bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, attorney Maneka Guruswamy, who appeared for a petitioner, was asked if there was a law, regulation, ordinance, law or directive that would prevent or restrict homosexuals would others.

"There are no such provisions," she said.

The bank then said that the LGBTQ community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and queer) faces stigma over the crime of consensual same-sex relationships.

"As soon as the crime (under Section 377) goes, everything will go (all bars, social stigma and others)," said the bank, which also included the judges R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.

"Over the years, we have created an environment in Indian society that has led to deep-seated discrimination of people of the same gender who are in a mutually compatible relationship, and this has also affected their mental health", said the bank on the third day Ultimate Hearing to decide the constitutional validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

§ 377 refers to "unnatural offenses" and states that anyone who voluntarily commits carnal intercourse with nature with any man, woman or animal is punished with life imprisonment, or with one of the two charges for a period of up to 10 years, and is also required to pay a fine.

Referring to the provisions of the Mental Health Care Act, the bank said that "it also recognizes the fact that such persons can not be discriminated against for their sexual orientation".

The observations came when senior attorney C U Singh, who stood for one of the interventions, said the mere removal of paragraph 377 would not serve the purpose of discriminating against the LGBTQ community in various ways.

"This community feels inhibited because they can not even get adequate medical care because of the prejudices," said Justice Malhotra, adding that even medical professionals do not maintain confidentiality.

Yesterday, the government left it to the top court to review the constitutional validity of Section 377 of the IPC, which criminalises "consensual acts of adults in the private sector" and urges that issues such as homosexual marriages, adoption and other civil rights not be dealt with by LGBTQ should be treated by him.

The Court notes that the Center believes that other issues such as homosexuality, adoption and the civil rights of the LGBTQ community should not be addressed and that all these issues have not been taken into account.

The bank had said that it would examine the validity of the law in relation to the consensual sexual acts of two adults and if it decided to delete the criminal law, it would be the "additional disqualification" of LGBTQ community members could participate in services, cancel elections and form associations.

Attorney Guruswamy yesterday drew attention to reports from Indian and American psychiatric institutions and said that homosexuality is a normal sexual orientation.

She described the law as a "terrible colonial legacy", violating Article 15 (sex discrimination), 14 (equality), 19 (freedom) and 21 of the Constitution, and had a "deterrent effect" on the sexual minority.

(This story was not edited by Business Standard employees and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)


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