The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has issued a short response to the decision of India’s highest court to criminalise gay sex.

In a statement to PinkNews.co.uk an FCO spokesperson said: “The actions of India’s Supreme Court are a matter for India.”

The response by the FCO appears rather muted compared to previous statements about Russia’s anti-gay laws.

On Wednesday, India’s Supreme Court upheld a law which criminalises gay sex, reversing a landmark 2009 Delhi High Court order which had legalised same-sex sexual activity.

Section 377 of India’s penal code bans “sex against the order of nature”, which is widely interpreted to mean gay sex, and can be punished with up to 10 years in jail – although at the moment prosecutions remain rare.

LGBT campaigners in India and around the world reacted with shock at the ruling.

The court case was initially brought by the Naz Foundation, an Indian HIV campaign group. The Naz Foundation has said that it will file a petition seeking a review of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“This decision is a body-blow to people’s rights to equality, privacy and dignity,” said G Ananthapadmanabhan, of Amnesty International India.

“It is hard not to feel let down by this judgment, which has taken India back several years in its commitment to protect basic rights,” he added.

Dr Purna Sen, former Head of Human Rights at the Commonwealth Secretariat and chair of the Kaleidoscope Trust, said: “The Supreme Court’s ruling is a terrible setback for the struggle to secure equal rights for LGBT people, not just in India, but in many of the Commonwealth countries that still enforce colonial era restrictions on the liberties of LGBT people.”

Dr Sen, who was born in India and now works at the LSE in London, added: “The 2009 ruling that read the ban on same-sex relationships as being at odds with the Constitution acted as a real beacon for hope in the Commonwealth.”

India remains a member of the Commonwealth and the UK has incredibly close cultural, political and economic ties with the country.

The UK is to end financial aid to India by 2015. Support worth about £200m ($319m) will be phased out completely by then.