Pillay dismayed at re-imposition of criminal sanctions for same-sex relationships in India

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Navi Pillay

"Criminalising private, consensual same-sex sexual conduct violates the rights to privacy and to non-discrimination enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which India has ratified, according to High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

Pillay expressed her disappointment at the re-criminalization of consensual same-sex relationships in India following a judgment by the Indian Supreme Court in the case of Naz Foundation v. Govt. of NCT of Delhi.

She said [Wednesday's] "Supreme Court decision in this case represents a significant step backwards for India and a blow for human rights."

The Supreme Court had been asked to examine the constitutionality of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which provides for the punishment of those found guilty of "unnatural offences". The law, originally introduced by the British colonial administration over 150 years ago, was used to criminalise same-sex relationships.

In 2009, the Delhi High Court had struck down Section 377 in so far as it applied to sexual conduct between consenting adults in private.

But in its decision announced Wednesday, the Supreme Court declared Section 377 to be constitutionally valid, thereby overturning the 2009 High Court decision and re-instating Section 377, thus re-criminalising consensual, private same-sex sexual conduct.

Human rights chief Navi Pillay said "The Supreme Court of India has a long and proud history of defending and expanding protection of human rights. This decision is a regrettable departure from that tradition."

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’30″

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