Supreme Court favours live-streaming of court proceedings

Gay sex has been illegal in India since 1861

The new five-judge bench will be headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and would comprise Justice RF Nariman, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud, and Justice Indu Malhotra.

The campaign for decriminalising gay sex also been bolstered by a supreme court ruling in August a year ago, which ruled that privacy, including a person's sexuality, was a fundamental right.

India's top court began reviewing Tuesday (Jul 10) petitions against a colonial-era ban on homosexuality, in the latest chapter of a legal tussle between social and religious conservatives and more liberal-minded Indians.

ANI reported that BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy said that being homosexual was 'not normal, ' was 'against Hindutva, ' and needs 'medical research to see if it can be cured. The Bench asked AG Venugopal to submit holistic guidelines which the court may adopt.

The top court is hearing two petitions filed by Senior Advocate Indira Jaising and law student Swapnil Tripathi.

"Section 377 IPC uses the phraseology "carnal intercourse against the order of nature". Even the Centre had at that time favoured retention of the provision in the IPC as penal offence.

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Hotelier Kesav Suri, the Managing Director of Lalit Suri Hospitality group who is also an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights activist, filed the plea in the apex court in April challenging the constitutional validity of Section 377.

The bench, which agreed with the submission of Rohatgi, also said it would examine the fundamental right to life and sexual freedom.

The new petitions will now be challenging the apex court's verdict in 2013.

The apex court had on May 3 sought the response of the Centre to pleas seeking live streaming, video recording or transcribing of judicial proceedings in courts.

Referring to its December 2013 verdict that overturned the 2009 Delhi high court order that decriminalised gay sex, the apex court admitted that its decision needed to be reconsidered and referred the matter to a larger bench. On their dismissal, curative petitions were filed by the affected parties seeking re-examination of the original verdict.

The hearing comes nearly a year after the Supreme Court ruled that individual privacy is a fundamental right, a verdict constitutional experts say has a bearing on the homosexuality ban. In the past too, petitions to scrap the law was signed by different individuals, including Ashok Rao Kavi of Humsafar Trust and Arif Jaffar.

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