LGBT rights in India

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LGBT rights in India India
Area controlled by India shown in dark green;claimed but uncontrolled regions shown in light green.
Area controlled by India shown in dark green;
claimed but uncontrolled regions shown in light green.
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Illegal under section 377 of the Indian penal code. Penalty: Up to life imprisonment [1]
Gender identity/expression Right to change legal gender to Male/Female/Other since April 15, 2014
Military service N.A
Discrimination protections None (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of
relationships
No recognition
Adoption Trans* adoptions allowed

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in India face the danger of being imprisoned up to a lifetime because of their sexual orientation. Homosexual intercourse is a criminal offence under section 377 of the Indian Penal Code since 1860. Mental, physical, emotional and economic violence against LGBT community in India prevails.[2] Lacking support from family, society or police many gay rape victims stay silent.[3]

In Naz Foundation v. Govt. of NCT of Delhi in 2009, the Delhi High Court ruled Section 377 and other legal prohibitions against private, adult, consensual and non-commercial same-sex conduct to be in direct violation of fundamental rights provided by the Indian Constitution. However, the Supreme Court of India overturned the decision of the lower court on 11 December 2013 and upheld the primacy of section 377.[4][5]

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Homosexual intercourse was made a criminal offence under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. This made it an offence for a person to voluntarily have "carnal intercourse against the order of nature." In 2009, the Delhi High Court decision in Naz Foundation v. Govt. of NCT of Delhi found Section 377 and other legal prohibitions against private, adult, consensual, and non-commercial same-sex conduct to be in direct violation of fundamental rights provided by the Indian Constitution.

According to a ruling by the Indian Supreme Court, decisions of a High Court on the constitutionality of a law apply throughout India, and not just to the territory of the state over which the High Court in question has jurisdiction.[clarification needed][6] However, even there have been incidents of harassment of homosexual groups.[7]

However, on 23 February 2012, the Union Home Ministry of the UPA government replying to a Supreme Court observation, told the Supreme Court that it was opposed to the decriminalisation of homosexual activity. "This is highly immoral and against the social order." It said that India's moral and social values were different from other countries, and therefore, the state should not be guided by them.[8] The Central Government reversed its stand on 28 February 2012, asserting that there was no error in decriminalising homosexual activity. This resulted in the SC reprimanding the central government for frequently changing its stand on the issue. "Don't make a mockery of the system and don't waste the court's time," an apex court judge told the government.[9]

On 11 December 2013, the Supreme Court set aside the 2009 Delhi High Court order decriminalising consensual homosexual activity within its jurisdiction.[10][11][12] The bench of justices G. S. Singhvi and S. J. Mukhopadhaya however noted that parliament should debate and decide on the matter.[13] The full decision can be found here.

On January 28, 2014 Supreme Court dismissed the review Petition filed by Central Government, NGO Naz Foundation and several others, against its December 11 verdict on Section 377 of IPC.[14] In explaining the ruling the bench said: "While reading down Section 377, the High Court overlooked that a minuscule fraction of the country’s population constitutes lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgenders, and in the more than 150 years past, less than 200 persons have been prosecuted for committing offence under Section 377, and this cannot be made a sound basis for declaring that Section ultra vires Articles 14, 15 and 21."[15]

Human rights groups[which?] expressed worries that this would render homosexual couples vulnerable to police harassment, saying: "The Supreme Court's ruling is a disappointing setback to human dignity, and the basic rights to privacy and non-discrimination"[16] The Naz Foundation (India) Trust stated that it would file a petition for review of the court's decision.[17]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Same-sex marriages are not legal in India.

But that did not stop a Gurgaon court in 2011 from effectively recognising a marriage between two women.[18] Since marrying, the couple started receiving threats from friends and relatives in their village.

Their lawyer said the court had served notice on 14 of Veena's relatives and villagers who had threatened them with "dire consequences". Haryana has been the centre of widespread protests by villagers who believe their village councils, or khaps should be allowed to impose their own punishments on those who disobey their rulings or break local traditions – mainly honour killings of those who marry within their own gotra or sub-caste, regarded in the state as akin to incest. Deputy Commissioner of Police Dr. Abhe Singh told The Daily Telegraph: "The couple has been shifted to a safe house and we have provided adequate security to them on the court orders. The security is provided on the basis of threat perception and in this case the couple feared that their families might be against the relationship."[19]

The couple did win family approval eventually.[20]

Transgender rights[edit]

In India one group of transgender people are called Hijras. They were legally granted voting rights as a third sex in 1994.[21] Due to alleged legal ambiguity of the procedure, Indian transgender individuals do not have access to safe medical facilities for SRS.[22] On 15 April 2014, Supreme Court of India declared transgender people as a socially and economically backward class entitled to reservations in Education and Job, and also directed union and state governments to frame welfare schemes for them.[23]

Transgender in Indian Politics[edit]

Shabnam Mausi is the first transgender Indian or hijra to be elected to public office. She was an elected member of the Madhya Pradesh State Legislative Assembly from 1998 to 2003.In 2000 Shabnam Mausi became India's first eunuch MP.(Hijras were granted voting rights in 1994 in India.) In 2003, Hijras in Madhya Pradesh have announced establishing their own political party called "Jeeti Jitayi Politics" (JJP), which literally means 'politics that has already been won'. The party has also released an eight-page election manifesto which it claims outlines why it is different from mainstream political parties.[24]

Kalki Subramaniam, a transgender rights activist, writer and an actor,In the 2011 assembly elections, Kalki tried in vain to get a DMK ticket.[25] Again on March 2014 Kalki announced in Puducherry that she would contest in this election from Villupuram constituency in neighbouring Tamil Nadu. She is likely to be among the very few contestants fighting in the national elections from the transgender community that faces discrimination and ridicule.[26]

Gender issue in TNPSC and UPSC[edit]

Transgender Swapna and gender activist Gopi Shankar from Srishti Madurai[27] staged the protest in Madurai collectorate on 7th October 2013 demanding reservation and to permit alternate genders to appear for examinations conducted by TNPSC, UPSC, SSC and Bank Exams.Swapna, incidentally, had successfully moved the Madras High Court in 2013 seeking permission to write the TNPSC Group II exam as a ‘woman’ candidate. Swapna is the first trans person to clear TNPSC Group IV exams.[28]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal No(Penalty:Life Imprisonment)
Equal age of consent X mark.svg
Anti-discrimination laws in employment No / Yes Trans* persons protected by affirmative action in public sector as of April 15, 2014
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) No
Same-sex marriages No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military No
Right to change legal gender Yes (One may choose Male, Female, or Other)
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No

LGBT Right Activists[edit]

Name Achievement
Nakshatra Bagwe Film maker and actor
Bobby Darling Transsexual actress
Tista Das Transsexual
Pablo Ganguli
Rituparno Ghosh
Manvendra Singh Gohil
Andrew Harvey
Harish Iyer
Celina Jaitley Miss India 2001
Firdaus Kanga
Karpaga
Ashok Row Kavi
Saleem Kidwai
Agniva Lahiri Social activist (PLUS Kolkata)
Nolan Lewis Mr India Gay 2013
Shabnam Mausi
Hoshang Merchant
Ismail Merchant
Freddie Mercury
Onir
Raul Patil Mr India Gay 2011
Zoltan Parag Mr India Gay 2008
Sridhar Rangayan
R. Raj Rao
Wendell Rodricks
Nishit Saran
Vikram Seth
Parvez Sharma
Ramchandra Siras
Manil Suri
Laxmi Narayan Tripathi
Ruth Vanita
Rose Venkatesan
Riyad Vinci Wadia

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Supreme Court makes homosexuality a crime again - The Times of India". The Times Of India. 
  2. ^ http://www.dnaindia.com/delhi/report-violence-against-lgbt-groups-still-prevails-in-india-1924112
  3. ^ "Lacking support, male rape victims stay silent - The Times of India". The Times Of India. 
  4. ^ Burke, Jason (28 January 2014). "Indian supreme court refuses to review ban on gay sex". The Guardian (Delhi). Archived from the original on 11 February 2014. 
  5. ^ "India top court reinstates gay sex ban". BBC News. 11 December 2013. Archived from the original on 11 February 2014. 
  6. ^ Kusum Ingots v. Union of India, (2004) 6 SCC 254: "An order passed on a writ petition questioning the constitutionality of a Parliamentary Act, whether interim or final, keeping in view the provisions contained in Clause (2) of Article 226 of the Constitution of India, will have effect throughout the territory of India subject of course to the applicability of the Act."
  7. ^ Pervez Iqbal Siddiqui (28 December 2010). "Crackdown on gay party in Saharanpur, 13 held". The Times of India. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  8. ^ http://www.mumbaimirror.com/article/3/2012022320120223141327934d025428/Homosexuality-Govt-opposes-HC-verdict-in-apex-court.html
  9. ^ http://www.indianexpress.com/news/supreme-court-pulls-up-centre-for-flipflop-on-homosexuality/917743/?google_editors_picks=true
  10. ^ "Supreme Court sets aside Delhi High Court judgment in Naz Foundation; Declares S.377 to be constitutional". 
  11. ^ Nelson, Dean (11 December 2013). "India's top court upholds law criminalising gay sex". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  12. ^ "Supreme Court makes gay sex punishable offence, again; Twitter war breaks out between those for and against the verdict". DNA India. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  13. ^ "Homosexuality is criminal offence: Supreme Court". Economic Times. 11 December 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  14. ^ "Supreme Court refuses overruling its Verdict on Section 377 and Homosexuality". IANS. Biharprabha News. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  15. ^ J Venkatesan (11 December 2013). "Supreme Court sets aside Delhi HC verdict decriminalising gay sex". The Hindu (Chennai, India). Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  16. ^ Harmit Shah Singh (11 December 2013). "India's Supreme Court declares homosexual sex illegal". CNN. 
  17. ^ "Naz Foundation to file review petition against SC order on section 377". 
  18. ^ "In a first, Gurgaon court recognizes lesbian marriage", Times of India
  19. ^ "India's first married lesbian couple given 24-hour protection", The Telegraph
  20. ^ "Lesbian couple's parents accept their relationship - The Times of India". The Times Of India. 
  21. ^ Shackle, Samira. "Politicians of the third gender: the "shemale" candidates of Pakistan". New Statesman. Retrieved 11/05/2013. 
  22. ^ "Crystallising Queer Politics-The Naz Foundation Case and Its Implications For India's Transgender Communities". NUJS Law Review. 2009. 
  23. ^ "Supreme Court’s Third Gender Status to Transgenders is a landmark". IANS. news.biharprabha.com. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  24. ^ "Eunuch MP takes seat". BBC News. 6 March 2000. 
  25. ^ http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil_nadu/article452450.ece?service=print
  26. ^ Jaisankar, C.; Raghunathan, A. V. "Transgender Kalki in poll race". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 
  27. ^ "Transgenders stage protest at collectorate - The Times of India". The Times Of India. 
  28. ^ http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil_nadu/Transgender-Clears-TNPSC-Group-IV-Exam/2014/02/09/article2046310.ece#.Uvc-CPmSycw