Arun Jaitley says India cannot simply ‘nudge off’ its LGBT community.
India’s finance minister has spoken out against the harsh laws criminalising gay sex in the country.
Arun Jaitley says that the country must reconsider the “conservative” ruling made by the Supreme Court in 2013, as it ignores the needs of “millions of people” across India.
“When you have millions of people involved in this (gay sex) you can’t nudge them off,” he stated.
He added that India’s approach to gay rights needs to be modernised, arguing that the law would have been “right” fifty years ago, but not today.
“As jurisprudence world over is evolving, I think the judgement was not correct and probably at some stage they may have to reconsider,” he said.
He went on to accuse his critics of hypocrisy, claiming that the Indian legal system has always fought to protect its people’s right to free speech.
In 2013, the country’s highest court upheld a colonial-era law which criminalises gay sex, in what activists described as a “black day” for gay rights.
The Supreme Court threw out a 2009 New Delhi High Court decision that ruled the law was unconstitutional.
The court stated that only India’s Parliament could change the law, by deleting a section of the penal code dating back to the 19th century – thus ruling that the Delhi High Court had overstepped its powers with its decision four years previously.
Section 377 of India’s penal code bans “sex against the order of nature”, which is widely interpreted to mean gay sex, and can be punished with up to 10 years in jail. The rule dates back to the days of British colonial rule in India.
Earlier this month the Grey’s anatomy was subject to a notice issued by the Indian Broadcasting Content Complaints Council of India for depicting a lesbian character talking about her inability to please her partner in bed.