India: London rally to support LGBT decriminalisation
Protesters urge repeal of Section 377 & life imprisonment
London - 13 January 2014
100 protesters - half of them Indian and African - rallied outside the Indian High Commission in London on Saturday 11 January. They were supporting Indian calls for the repeal of Section 377 of the Indian penal code, which criminalises homosexuality with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
The protest was in solidarity with simultaneous protests in India, marking one month since the Supreme Court of India recriminalised homosexuality.
The London protesters chanted: “No to 377” and “2-4-6-8. India, don’t discriminate. 3-5-7-9. LGBT is mighty fine.”
Saturday’s rally was organised by LGBT activist Scott Weiss, with the support of Indian LGBT campaigners and the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
Ash Kotak, an Indian LGBT activist and playwrite, was at the protest. He said:
“The protest marked one month since the Supreme Court put back India’s forward-looking stance towards decriminalising homosexuality. I’m certain the Indian government want to change the law. There’s hope that it will happen. I found it encouraging that Ugandan supporters at the demonstration look to India....seeing it as a country where LGBT activists can be listened to and reform achieved.”
Protest organiser Scott Weiss added:
“I organised the protest to send a message to UK and Indian lawmakers to urge the Indian parliament to repeal section 377 of the Indian penal code, which makes homosexual acts between consenting adults illegal. India is a beautiful nation with a rich culture. It saddens me that such a place would reinstate this regressive law. I have great hope that the next session of parliament will repeal section 377.”
Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights lobby, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, said:
"We stand in solidarity with LGBT Indians and their straight allies. We support their struggle to repeal section 377.
“As a British-based equality organisation, we feel a special duty to support Indian people who oppose the criminalisation of homosexuality, which was imposed on India by the British colonial administration during the era of imperialism in the nineteenth century.
"It is not an authentic Indian law. Prior to British colonial occupation, this anti-gay law did not exist. Indeed, the Kama Sutra and some Indian temple sculptures celebrate same-sex love.
"Section 377 violates the equality and non-discrimination clauses of the Indian constitution, the Commonwealth Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which India has signed and pledge to uphold.
“Section 377, of the Indian Penal Code dates back to 1861. Imposed by the British during the colonial rule of India, it criminalises sexual activities ‘against the order of nature,’ including same-sex acts. It is a relic of colonialism, not an authentic indigenous law.
“Section 377 was declared unconstitutional with regard to sex between consenting adults by the High Court of Delhi on 2 July 2009. This judgement was overturned by the Supreme Court of India on 11 December 2013, with the Court ruling that amending or repealing Section 377 should be a matter left to parliament, not the judiciary,” said Mr Tatchell.