A Congressman in India is trying to build public support for the campaign to decriminalise gay sex – after a defeat in Parliament.

Activists have been battling to remove Section 377, the country’s colonial-era anti-gay law, which was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 2013.

However, the cause suffered a blow last month when a bill that would have repealed the ban was overwhelmingly voted down, by 71 votes to 24.

Having failed to persuade his colleagues, Congressman Shashi Tharoor is now appealing directly to the public to build support, launching a new petition.

The Congressman told AFP: “This is not about homosexuality as the opposition has caricatured it.

“It is about freedom, justice, equality of treatment and upholding the values enshrined in our Constitution.

“This law is from the 1860s and it has no place in the 21st century nor in people’s private lives or in their bedrooms.”

He added in the petition: “Section 377 is a British relic, drafted in 1860 and based on outdated Victorian morals. It has no place in a modern nation like India.

“Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code gives the state the authority to investigate what’s happening in your bedroom.

“Section 377 makes any sex apart from penile-vaginal intercourse between a man and a woman illegal.

“It impacts the LGBTQ community, it even impacts married heterosexual couples.

“It’s a law that can be used to oppress and harass.

“The Indian government is reluctant to amend the law. My Private Member’s Bill was recently defeated in Parliament, but I’m not giving up.”