The Indian Army will continue to enforce regulations banning gay sex, despite the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the country.

Gay sex became legal in India in September 2018, when the country’s Supreme Court struck down British colonial-era law Section 377.



However the head of the Indian Army, General Bipin Rawat said on Thursday (January 10) that the military will continue to enforce a ban on gay soldiers.

Indian Army ‘won’t follow’ decriminalisation of gay sex

Rawat told the media at a press conference: “We will not allow this to happen in the Army. LGBT issues… in the army, these are not acceptable.

“We will still be dealing with them under various sections of the Army Act. [It] will not be allowed to happen in the Indian Army.”

Indian army chief Bipin Rawat inspects the army Day parade in New Delhi on January 15, 2018.
Indian army chief Bipin Rawat inspects the army Day parade in New Delhi on January 15, 2018.(SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty)

According to NDTV, he added: “We are not above the country’s law but when you join the Indian Army, some of the rights and privileges you enjoy are not what we have. Some things are different for us, but we are certainly not above the Supreme Court.

“We will have to see how we take a call, let us also see how it comes into the society, whether it’s accepted or not…I can’t say what will happen two years down the road.”

Indian Army laws written in 1950s ban ‘unnatural’ conduct

Despite the decriminalisation of gay sex, homosexuality in the Indian armed forces is still a prosecutable offence under three 1950s laws, the Army Act, the Navy Act and the Air Force Act.

The vaguely-written laws bar “any disgraceful conduct of a cruel, indecent or unnatural kind,” with “unnatural conduct” commonly interpreted in law as a euphemism for homosexuality.

Despite the push to decriminalise homosexuality across the world, many countries still maintain prohibitions on LGBT+ people serving in the armed forces.

The LGBT Military Index, which launched in 2014, studied 100 countries around the world and found that 50 permitted people to serve in the armed forces regardless of sexual orientation, and 50 did not.

Just 24 countries permit people to serve regardless of gender identity, with 76 countries including the United States maintaining a ban on trans troops.

In July 2017, US President Donald Trump abruptly announced on Twitter that all transgender servicepeople would be purged from the US armed forces, claiming they were a burden on the military.

The resulting policy has been repeatedly challenged in courts, and trans service personnel are currently able to continue serving as the policy continues to be subject to legal action.




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