Law that criminalises sex between men

Celebrations in India over ruling - but concerns remain

Couple Sunil Mehra (left) and Navtej Singh Johar felt they were finally "equal citizens". Members and supporters of the LGBT community in New Delhi celebrating the decision to strike down the ban on gay sex.
Couple Sunil Mehra (left) and Navtej Singh Johar felt they were finally "equal citizens". PHOTO: COURTESY OF SUNIL MEHRA AND NAVTEJ SINGH JOHAR
Couple Sunil Mehra (left) and Navtej Singh Johar felt they were finally "equal citizens". Members and supporters of the LGBT community in New Delhi celebrating the decision to strike down the ban on gay sex.
Members and supporters of the LGBT community in New Delhi celebrating the decision to strike down the ban on gay sex.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

They have been together for over 20 years, but bharatanatyam dancer Navtej Singh Johar and journalist Sunil Mehra felt they were equal citizens only this month, after India's Supreme Court struck out a 157-year law banning gay sex.

The couple are among a clutch of petitioners behind the legal battle to decriminalise homosexuality, which was an offence under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. The section banned "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal" and was interpreted to include consensual gay sex, creating an atmosphere of fear and repression.

Please or to continue reading the full article. Learn more about ST PREMIUM.

Enjoy unlimited access to ST's best work

  • Exclusive stories and features on multiple devices
  • In-depth analyses and opinion pieces
  • ePaper and award-winning multimedia content
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 16, 2018, with the headline 'Celebrations in India over ruling - but concerns remain'. Print Edition | Subscribe