India court upholds sodomy law
NEW DELHI — Reversing a 2009 order by a lower court, India’s Supreme Court on Dec. 11 upheld that nation’s colonial-era law criminalizing homosexuality.
The court said lawmakers, not judges, should change the law.
Activists in India reacted with surprise.
“We cannot be forced back into the closet,” said activist Gautam Bhan. “We are not backing off from our fight against discrimination.”
The current law dates back the 1860s during British colonial rule in South Asia. It prohibits “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal.” Those found guilty of violating the law can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.
A lower court ruling in 2009 said the law violated fundamental human rights and overturned it. That ruling resulted in a rare alliance between conservative groups like the All India Muslim Law Board and Christian and Hindu leaders.
An Indian legislator has said the issue may come before Parliament.
India is the world’s largest democracy and, with the ruling, re-criminalizes homosexuality for 17 percent of the world’s total population.
Seventy-seven nations across the globe penalize homosexuality. In some, violations can result in death. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned its crimes against nature statutes in the 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas.
Report details Ethiopian struggle
Newsweek published an in-depth report by writer Katie J.M. Baker on Dec. 13, exploring the current struggle for LGBT equality in the African nation of Ethiopia. There, homosexuality is illegal and punishable by prison time, but Baker reports that U.S. and European Christian organizations are funding efforts for harsher laws, similar to those proscribing lengthier prison sentences or death for homosexual behavior passed in nations like Uganda. Activism for LGBT equality is also illegal, and many non-governmental organizations fear discussing other issues like health and HIV prevention with LGBT residents. Read Baker’s full report online atbit.ly/1fvSVhK.
A New Jersey Senate committee has approved a bill that would require the state health officials to issue new birth certificates to transgender individuals who have completed gender confirmation surgery.
Hearings have begun in a court case challenging Arkansas’ anti-LGBT marriage bans.
Northern Ireland has repealed a ban that prevented same-sex couples from adopting children.
Shreveport, La., has adopted a new LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance that protects individuals in employment, housing and public accommodations.
A European Union commissioner for justice, citizenship and fundamental rights said on Dec. 10 that she would not attend the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Commissioner Viviane Reding joins German President Joachim Cauck, who became the first world leader to announce he would boycott the games over Russia’s human rights record.