The Indian government will take its case for decriminalising homosexuality to the Delhi High Court on Thursday.

The debate around Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a 148 year old law criminalises gay sex, has been long and heated.

The law bans “unnatural sexual offences” and theoretically punishes anyone who engages in anal or oral sex with up to ten years in prison.

Activists say they have taken Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss’ support for legalising homosexuality seriously, reports the Times of India.

Mr Ramadoss told the International AIDS Conference in Mexico last month that Section 377 must be repealed.

Ashok Row Kavi, founder of gay rights organisation Humsafar Trust, told the Times of India:

“Gays are the largest group vulnerable to AIDS, but the government doesn’t seem to understand this.

“Section 377 is one of the main reasons India has an estimated 2.35 million people classed as vulnerable to AIDS but who may not get treated.”

Thousands of gay activists gathered in a park in Mumbai last month to call on the British Government to apologise for introducing Section 377 when India was under colonial rule.

The protests came from the same park where Mahatma Gandhi ordered the British to leave India sixty-six years ago.