In an interview with PinkNews.co.uk, the openly gay Foreign Office minister Chris Bryant has welcomed the Delhi High Court’s judgement that homosexuality should be decriminalised.

Section 377 was enacted in 1860 under the British Raj, in line with the anti-sodomy laws in England at the time. Today, judges ruled that ban violates India’s constitution.

Bryant, the Labour MP for The Rhondda, took up a new role as a junior Foreign Office minister last month, told PinkNews.co.uk: “We very warmly welcome this important step and hope it will lead to the full emancipation of gay and lesbian people in India.

“Britain created these laws in a time when we had similar laws. Now we’ve decriminalised homosexuality and allowed couples to form civil partnerships.

“This underlines the fact there’s still a lot to be done in many parts of the world, including in the Commonwealth.”

A Foreign Office spokeswoman added: “The UK believes the recent decision by the New Delhi High Court to decriminalise homosexuality is a positive step and we will monitor further developments closely. Human rights are universal they should not be determined by sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Despite the ruling, gay rights activists in India fear pressure from religious groups may force the government to contest the decision.