Home / Community / India’s Supreme Court refers petition on gay sex ban to bigger bench. LGBT activists cheer.

India’s Supreme Court refers petition on gay sex ban to bigger bench. LGBT activists cheer.

Participants dance under a a rainbow flag as they attend the sixth Delhi Queer Pride parade, an event promoting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights, in New Delhi November 24, 2013. Hundreds of participants on Saturday took part in a parade demanding freedom and safety of their community, according to a media release. REUTERS/Mansi Thapliyal (INDIA - Tags: SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

India’s Supreme Court has referred a petition to make homosexuality legal in the country to a five-judge higher panel.

The decision offers a ray of hope to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community that has faced persecution after the world’s largest democracy in December 2013 reinstated a colonial-era law banning gay sex.

“It is definitely a step forward,” lawyer Anand Grover said as activists gathered outside the courtroom cheered.

Three judges said the court’s 2013 ruling would be re-examined the larger bench and termed the issue a “matter of constitutional importance”.

According to Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which was first introduced some 155 years ago, a same-sex relationship is an “unnatural offence”.

On Tuesday, the court heard a “curative petition” of the earlier order which activists had described as a “miscarriage of justice”.

The new five-judge panel will be headed by the chief justice of India.

The decision was cheered by scores of LGBT activists who had gathered outside the Supreme Court building in the capital Delhi.

In 2009 the Delhi High Court had ruled that Section 377 was discriminatory – a ruling which was later challenged by a number of political and social groups in the Supreme Court which in turn upheld the opposition, saying that it was up to Parliament to change the law.

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