As India Decriminalises Homosexuality, The Fight Continues For 71 Other Countries

The world reacts to the monumental and long awaited Supreme Court decision to decriminalise homosexuality in India, while 71 other countries still struggle against homophobic laws.

A group of LGBT+ people celebrating the decriminalisation of homosexuality in India

The LGBT+ world and its allies celebrated yesterday with the momentous news that the Supreme Court of India had decriminalised homosexuality. The overturning of Section 377, a 158 year-old colonial-era law banning homosexual acts, led to widespread jubilation from the LGBT+ community of India. Yet for 71 other countries, the fight continues.

Seeing as how India’s population is over 1.3 billion people, the amount of LGBT+ people affected by the decision makes this one of the biggest legal decisions in queer history.

The landmark ruling has encouraged those abroad still facing discrimination to fight criminalisation in their own countries.

Tommy Koh, a veteran Singapore diplomat, has urged the local LGBT+ community there to challenge their own homophobic laws. Koh stated: “I would encourage our gay community to bring a class action to challenge the constitutionality of Section 377A”.

PinkDot, a Singapore gay rights group, stated: “We hope that parliament will consider the decriminalisation of S377A. We are ready to keep up with India.”

Of those 71 other countries where homosexuality is still illegal, nine; Afghanistan, Brunei, Mauritania, Yemen, Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Iran, still issue the death penalty as punishment. 30 of those countries are former British colonies who still have laws based on original colonial anti-LGBT legislation.

While Africa, Asia and the Middle East have the highest prevalence of anti-LGBT+ laws, it should be noted that many other countries outside those 71 still have laws in place banning same-sex marriage. This does not even include countries where homosexuality may not be criminalised but is certainly frowned upon.

While there is still a long road ahead for worldwide LGBT+ equality, at the moment it is a time for celebration.

Bismaya Kumar Raula, a campaigner for LGBT+ rights in India, told reporters: “I can’t even explain how I am feeling right now. The long battle has been won. Finally we have been recognized by this country.”

© 2018 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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