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India Anti-Gay Ruling a Return to 19th Century Colonialism

Released: 12/13/2013 9:20 AM EST
Source Newsroom: Cornell University
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The Supreme Court of India, the world’s largest democracy, restored an 1861 law Wednesday banning sex among gay people. That law was ruled unconstitutional in 2009, but the Supreme Court ruled this week that only India’s Parliament had the power to change that law. Durba Ghosh, associate professor of History at Cornell University, says that the court decision returns India to 19th Century colonial law.

Ghosh says:

“It's a shame that the Supreme Court of India has decided to retain a colonial-era law that criminalized homosexuality. As we know from the news, they did so on the grounds that the law was a part of India's legislative code and can only be changed by parliamentary vote.

“This judgment has returned India to the 19th Century, to a moment when it was colonized by the British. The historical records show that the colonial government instituted this law because they believed that homosexuality, as it was practiced by Indians, was going to spread to the west unless it was made into a crime.

“I will hope that, as the world's largest postcolonial democracy, India can be a model for liberated and decolonized nation-states, as it was in 2009 when the anti-gay law – Section 377 – was struck down. It would be shame if India returned to being colonized by colonial law yet again.”

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