Monthly Archives: January 2014

Supreme Court of India refuses to review gay ban

The controversial Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that deals with “unnatural offenses” criminalises homosexuality in India.

Section 377

The Indian Penal Code is a 153-year-old act that was introduced during the British rule in India. Section 377 deals with unnatural offenses.

“Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Naz Foundation v. Govt of NCT of Delhi

Naz Foundation, a non-governmental organisation that supports gay rights had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Delhi High Court in 2001 seeking legislation of homosexual intercourse between consenting adults.

In 2006, the National AIDS Control Organisation filed an affidavit stating that Section 377 violated LGBT rights.

The Delhi High Court declared Section 377 as unconstitutional with respect to sex between consenting adults on 2 July, 2009 in Naz Foundation v. Govt of NCT of Delhi. The court claimed that Section 377 violated the fundamental rights to equality before law, freedom from discrimination and life and personal liberty under Articles 14, 15 and 21 respectively of the Constitution of India.

The Supreme Court overturned this ruling and upheld the provisions of the constitution on 11 December, 2013. The Supreme Court ruled homosexuality to be a criminal offense setting aside the 2009 judgment passed by the Delhi High Court. The judgment declared that it was upto the parliament to amend the law and the judiciary did not have the mandate to rule on it.

Future of the LGBT community

Homosexuality is considered a taboo in India. Sex between people of the same gender is punishable by law.

Following the ruling in 2009 by the Delhi High Court, Gay people found hope and several came out of the closet sensing a bright future. However, on 28 January, 2014, the Supreme Court dismissed the review petition filed by the Central Government, Naz Foundation and several others.

The community can now file a curative petition to have the law overturned or can seek the parliamentary route to have the law amended.

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Filed under India, Law

Ariel Sharon dies

Former Israeli Prime Mininster Ariel Sharon died after spending eight years in coma following a stroke.

 ‘Arik’ to his friends, the ‘Bulldozer’ to his critics.

Sharon was a commander of the Israeli army and fought in all of Israel’s major wars before beginning his political career after the 1973 war.

Sharon became the defense minister in 1981 and led the invasion of Lebanon a year later. He became the Prime Minister of Israel in 2001. A few months before slipping into coma, he completed a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Sharon served as the prime minister throughout the most turbulent times in Israel-Palestine history.

He has been accused of war crimes and human rights abuses following the 1982 Lebanon war. The Sabra and Shatila massacre witnessed the killing of between 750 to 3500 civilians mostly from Lebanon and Palestine.

Health issues

Sharon suffered his first stroke in December 2005. Seventeen days later, a bigger stroke left him in a vegetative state. Over the last one year, he suffered multiple organ failure. He spent months in a hospital in Jerusalem before being shifted to the Sheba Medical Centre, a long-term facility in Tel Aviv.

The soldier-politician was kept alive for eight years by a complicated network of ventilators and feeding tubes. Widowed twice, his sons Omri and Gilad tended to him while he was ill.

Death

Ariel Sharon died aged 85 years on 11th January following multiple organ failure after spending eight years in coma. His funeral is expected to take place on 13 January in accordance with Jewish burial customs. He will be buried at his family’s ranch in the Negev desert besides his wife Lily, the younger sister of his first wife Margalit. Sharon is survived by his sons Omri and Gilad.

British Prime Minister, David Cameron said, “Ariel Sharon is one of the most significant figures in Israeli history and as Prime Minister he took brave and controversial decisions in pursuit of peace, before he was so tragically incapacitated. Israel has today lost an important leader.”

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Filed under International, Politics