Thursday, July 02, 2009

India finally enters the 21st century on gay rights

The incredibly conservative country (though less insanely so than its Middle-Eastern neighbors) has just struck down a law that criminalized homosexuality in the country – though this decriminalization only applies in its capital, New Delhi, thus far. Still, it's a very good start.

NEW DELHI (AP) — A court ruled Thursday to decriminalize homosexuality in the Indian capital, a groundbreaking decision that could bring more freedom to gays in this deeply conservative country.

The Delhi High Court ruled that treating consensual gay sex as a crime is a violation of fundamental rights protected by India's constitution. The ruling, the first of its kind in India, applies only in New Delhi.

"I'm so excited, and I haven't been able to process the news yet," Anjali Gopalan, the executive director of the Naz Foundation (India) Trust, a sexual health organization that had filed the petition, told reporters. "We've finally entered the 21st century."

But some religious leaders quickly criticized the ruling. "This Western culture cannot be permitted in our country," said Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangi Mahali, a leading Muslim cleric in the northern city of Lucknow.

Yeah, yeah, keep whining. Ain't gonna change much. =)

The petition to strike down the law was actually filed eight years ago, which is par for the course in India's notoriously clogged judicial system. The law itself, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, was first set in place – not by Indians, but by the British during the colonial era. (Once again, giving meaning to the phrase "stiff-ass Brits" ...)

Maybe an influx of our far-from-perfect-but-still-much-much-better-than-theirs Western "culture" into the worlds of India, the Middle-East and such ass-backwards places wouldn't be a bad thing after all.


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