The Constitution Bench of Supreme Court will today hear petitions challenging section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises homosexuality. Categorised as an unnatural offence, consensual sexual intercourse between persons of same-sex is termed ‘against the order of nature’ under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and can be punishable by life imprisonment.

Here is a timeline of the long battle to strike down the British-era law.

  • 1994: Aids Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan files petition against Section 377. Petition lies dormant
  • 1998: Women’s groups protest after right-wing organisations force cinemas to stop screening Fire, a film that depicted a lesbian relationship
  • 2001: Naz Foundation files petition challenging the constitutionality of Section 377
  • 2004: Delhi high court dismisses the case
  • 2006: Supreme Court direct Delhi high court to hear the case; Voices Against 377, a coalition of human rights groups joins petition; Several LGBT persons file affidavits
  • 2009: Delhi HC says Section 377 does not apply to consenting adults; Astrologer Suresh Kumar Koushal, and 15 others challenge this order in SC; Parents, academicians, and mental health professionals intervene in favour of LGBT persons
  • 2013: Supreme Court strikes down Delhi high court judgment
  • 2013: Global Day of Rage demonstrations organised in over 30 cities worldwide to protest against Section 377
  • 2014: Curative petitions listed; SC delivers NALSA judgement recognising the rights of transgender persons
  • 2016: Curative petitions referred to Constitution Bench; Two fresh petitions from LGBT persons, including Navtej Johar and Others vs Union of India challenging Section 377 filed
  • 2018: Navtej Johar petition assigned to Constitution Bench; fresh petitions filed by NGOs, IIT students and alumni, and activists. Hearings begin in front of a five-judge bench.

(With inputs from agencies)

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