Politicians in India have voted down a bill that would decriminalise gay sex for the second time in three months.

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 has failed to pick up steam in Parliament, and activists suffered a defeat just before Christmas when a bill to repeal the law was overwhelmingly voted down, by 71 votes to 24.

After a lobbying campaign, today Congressman Shashi Tharoor took the bill to Parliament again – but his proposal was gathered even less support than previously.

Tharoor’s push to discuss the private members bill was defeated by a vote of 58 to 14, with one abstaining.

At present, the country’s penal code makes gay sex punishable with up to 10 years in jail. Members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) opposed reform on the issue, despite local and international pressure.

Tharoor previously resolved to keep tacking the issue, writing:”It is time to bring the Indian Penal Code into the 21st century”.

“Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was enacted in 1860, and criminalises ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’ – a term so archaic that it would invite derision in most modern societies,” he wrote.

Indian society sees homosexuality as taboo, and same-sex relationships are widely regarded as illegitimate.