Religious groups in India said although the country has decriminalized homosexuality in last week’s historic ruling, that does not make it morally acceptable. But LGBT activists are already looking to the next steps in normalizing homosexuality in the country.
The Supreme Court of India unanimously struck down an 1861 law, which condemned gay sex as “against the order of nature” and punishable by fines and up to 10 years imprisonment. Five individuals challenged the law as discriminatory, saying it caused harassment and abuse.
The Supreme Court agreed, ruling that sexual orientation was a “biological phenomenon.” In reading the verdict, Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, “Constitutional morality cannot be martyred at the altar of social morality.”
A New Delhi court previously ruled Section 377 unconstitutional in 2009, but the Supreme Court overturned it in 2013 on grounds that Parliament should change or repeal the law. In July 2016, the government deferred the case to the Supreme Court.
“The arguments used in this case are deeply subversive of an entire understanding of sexual reality that has been common to almost every civilization throughout the history of humanity,” Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a WORLD News Group board member, said on his podcast The Briefing earlier this week.
Transgender activist Abhina Aher told The Lily the ruling was just the beginning and the Indian LGBT people should “congregate and approach specific issues strategically,” including marriage and adoption.
But religious groups remained opposed to homosexual acts on moral grounds, the Catholic UCA News site reported.
“What is legal is not equal to moral acceptability,” Father Stephen Fernandes of the Indian bishops’ Office for Justice, Peace and Development said in a statement. He added that the ruling “violates the purpose of human sexuality, which is procreation, and union of love fulfilled in the loving union of man and woman in marriage.”
A Hindu guru, Goswami Sushil Ji Maharaj, also criticized the ruling, telling UCA News, “God has created men and women for a purpose … but some people think differently now, which is not morally acceptable.”
The New Indian Express also cited Muslim and Hindu critics and reported that a Hindu nationalist group may call for a review of the ruling. —Julia A. Seymour