India mulls towards abolishing Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises gay liaisons and the legalisation of same-sex marriages may be considered, Union law minister DV Sadananda Gowda said. “The mood appears to be in favour of it. But it can be done only after widespread consultations and taking all views into account,” Gowda said.
Gowda was speaking in the context of the US Supreme Court's historic verdict in the last week that has legalised the same-sex unions and the positive reception it got on the social media in India.
While referring to a private member’s bill on the rights of transgender people, Gowda said, “That bill has been passed by the Rajya Sabha and everyone supported it. If that bill is passed by the Lok Sabha and becomes an act, Section 377 will become irrelevant.”
Tiruchi Siva of the DMK, who has moved the bill, said, “The bill does not talk about Section 377 or anything other than the rights of Transgenders. I am always optimistic that rights of others will also get due importance." The minister's interpretation of the legislation on transgenders, appears to be somewhat off the mark. Tiruchi Siva told that he had limited his Bill to just the educational, economic, employment and health rights of transgenders."
Siva's Bill was taken forward by three Lok Sabha members with varied political leanings, Shobha Karandlaje of BJP, NK Premachandran of Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and Baijayant Panda of Biju Janata Dal (BJD). Karandlaje and Premachandran said the issue of Section 377 and gay rights are not on their radar.
Panda said the issue of Section 377 was tangential to their Bill, but added that conferences were being lined up on legal and legislative action needed on the matter. He said: "It is time for the debate on (Section) 377 to reflect what the Constitution guarantees for every Indian - which is equality."