Supreme Court Refused To Block Mississippi's Discriminatory Religious Freedom Law

Aaron Brown
January 9, 2018

However, in December 2013, the Supreme Court quashed the 2009 Delhi High Court order allowing gay sex and reinstated criminalisation of homosexuality.

Mississippi's law was one of a series of measures proposed in socially conservative, Republican-dominated states that gay rights advocates viewed as an attempt to undermine the High Court's gay marriage ruling.

It is the "worst" law in the nation, according to some LGBT groups, who were hoping the Supreme Court would strike it down. "Unfortunately, the Supreme Court's decision today leaves LGBT people in MS in the crosshairs of hate and humiliation, delaying justice and equality". But earlier petitions to review the ban were overturned by the court. Dating back to the 1800s, Section 377 criminalises anal and oral sex, referring to it as "unnatural sex", and states that it is "against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal".

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The lesbian gay bisexual transgender (LGBT) community has been demanding scrapping of Section 377 of the IPC, under which consensual sexual acts between members of the same sex are an offence entailing punishment up to life term. The three-judge bench took their knowledge views expressed in another judgment in August, which gave the right to privacy the status of a fundamental right. "It has the potential to destroy individual choice and sexual orientation", adding that right to privacy means "I have a right to choose my sexual partner". The SC decision will definitely strengthen arguments for decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Three judges including Chief Justice Dipak Misra said a larger group of justices would reconsider the law following a petition filed by five people who say they are living in fear of being prosecuted. "Choice can't be allowed to cross boundaries of law, but confines of law can't trample or curtail the inherent right embedded in an individual under Article 21 of the Constitution", the bench observed. Underlining the need to bring them into the mainstream, the verdict by a bench of Justices KS Radhakrishnan and AK Sikri said transgenders should have all rights under the law, including marriage, adoption, divorce, succession, and inheritance. The apex court also issued a notice today to the Centre seeking its response to a writ petition filed by five members of the lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community, who said they live in anxiety of police due to their natural sexual orientation and preferences.

What's the Supreme Court verdict on transgenders? It also includes a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

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