India’s Law Minister Kapil Sibal says the country’s government is considering decriminalising same-sex sexual activity, a day after the country’s top court upheld a law which criminalised gay sex.
“There are several options open to the government and we are considering all possible options but time is of the essence, we need to take quick action, firm action,” Law Minister Kapil Sibal said. “The archaic law should be changed, millions of people are affected and these people should not be exposed to 377.”
Sources say the government’s options include bringing an ordinance, or an executive order that has to be ratified within six months by the Indian Parliament.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram said the Supreme Court ruling had taken India “back to 1860”.
“The reasoning of the judgement is worrying. Our knowledge of physiology and psychology was poor in 1860, now to say same sex intercourse is against order of nature is retrograde,” he added.
The president of the ruling Congress party Sonia Gandhi also criticised the Supreme Court ruling.
She hoped that “Parliament will address the issue and uphold the Constitutional guarantee of life and liberty to all citizens.”
“Delhi High Court had wisely removed an archaic, unjust law,” she added.
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.
In a statement to PinkNews.co.uk an FCO spokesperson said: “The actions of India’s Supreme Court are a matter for India.”