December 19, 2015 at 12:00 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
India lawmakers reject bill to decriminalize homosexuality

Supreme Court of India, gay news, Washington Blade

Indian lawmakers on Dec. 18, 2015, rejected a bill that would have repealed the country’s colonial-era sodomy law. The Supreme Court of India in 2013 recriminalized homosexuality in the nation. (Photo by Legaleagle86; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Lawmakers in India on Friday rejected a bill that would have decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual activity in the country.

The Indian Express newspaper reported that members of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian Parliament, by a 71-24 vote margin voted against MP Shashi Thraoor’s bill that would have repealed the country’s colonial-era sodomy law known as Section 377.

Tharoor criticized the vote in a series of posts to his Twitter account.

James Robertson, executive director of the India HIV/AIDS Alliance in New Delhi, criticized the vote.

“This is a sad day,” he told the Washington Blade. “I’m unfortunately not surprised, but it is a painful reminder of how much more work India’s LGBT community has ahead of it before it secures the legal protections that are now commonplace in the world’s democracies.”

Omkar, an electronics engineer from Bangalore, echoed Robertson.

He noted to the Blade that Friday’s vote “does not come as a surprise,” given the fact that the conservative Bharatiya Janata Party controls the Lok Sabha. Omkar also pointed out that less than 100 lawmakers were present when Tharoor introduced his measure.

“[The] Indian political class, by and large, is not sensitized enough to the problems of sexual minorities and long-term social effects of criminalizing sexual acts ‘against the order of nature,’” he said, referring to failed marriages and other issues. “We, as humans, have come a long way and sex holds much more importance in day to day lives than just procreation. Our political class is mostly ignorant of this fact.”

Friday’s vote took place roughly two years after the Supreme Court of India reinstated Section 377.

The Supreme Court of India a few months later said it would consider a motion to reconsider the controversial ruling that sparked outrage among LGBT advocates in India and around the world. The same court in April 2014 issued a landmark decision that recognizes transgender people as a “third gender.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in January during a speech in the Indian capital of New Delhi reaffirmed his opposition to laws that criminalize homosexuality.

“Laws criminalizing consensual, adult same-sex relationships violate basic rights to privacy and to freedom from discrimination,” he said during an event that commemorated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the U.N.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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