NEW DELHI, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) -- In a major blow to India's homosexual community, the country's Supreme Court Wednesday ruled that gay sex between consenting adults would continue to be a criminal offence.
A two-judge bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya gave the ruling, setting aside an earlier verdict by the Delhi High Court which decriminalized homosexuality by overturning a 148-year-old colonial-era law -- Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code under which homosexual acts are punishable by a 10-year prison term. The apex court's order came in the wake of a bunch of petitions by anti-gay right activists, social and religious organizations who had appealed against the Delhi High Court's 2009 judgement decriminalizing gay sex.
In fact, the Delhi High Court had ruled that gay sex between two consenting adults in private would not be an offence, and overturned the colonial-era law which defines homosexual acts as " carnal intercourse against the order of nature".
Though the ruling was widely and visibly welcomed by India's gay community, it was strongly opposed by religious groups, particularly leaders of India's minority Muslim and Christian communities. They had appealed against the ruling before the Supreme Court, which concluded hearings on the issue in March last year.
Gay rights activists have expressed shock over the Supreme Court's ruling and claimed that the onus is now on the Indian Parliament to legislate on homosexuality and repeal Section 377.
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