NEW DELHI — India’s government July 11 asked the country’s top court to repeal or keep a controversial law that criminalizes homosexual acts.
Government attorney Tushar Mehta said the court should rule on the issue of consensual sexual acts between two adults.
The Supreme Court is hearing petitions by activists challenging the law, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, that makes gay sex punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
“We leave to the wisdom of the court to deal with the validity of Section 377 so far as it relates to consensual sexual acts between two adults,” the Press Trust of India news agency quoted Mehta as telling the five justices hearing the issue.
Activists had cheered in 2009 when the New Delhi High Court declared the law unconstitutional. But the judgment was overturned in 2013 when the top court decided that repealing the law should be left to Parliament, not the judiciary.
Over the past decade, homosexuals have gained a degree of acceptance in India, especially in big cities. Many bars have gay nights, and some high-profile Bollywood films have dealt with gay issues.
Still, being gay is largely seen as shameful in most of the country, and many homosexuals remain closeted.