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The Delhi High Court legalized homosexuality by striking down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Hearing a petition of Naz foundation, a bench comprising Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice S Muralidhar said if not amended, Section 377 of the IPC would violate Article 21 of the Indian constitution, which states that every citizen has equal opportunity of life and is equal before the law.

Section 377, a law from the British Raj era, says homosexuality and unnatural sex is a criminal act.

The bench said it was not illegal for woman and woman or man and man to have private consensual sex. The bench ordered that the Section 377 was violative of Article 21 of the Indian constitution.

The order assumes significance in view of the Home Ministry and the Health Ministry conflicting each other’s stands. While the Home Ministry wanted the petition to be dismissed, the Health Ministry said the statute 377 was obstructing AIDS/HIV prevention efforts.

AS An NGO working among AIDS/HIV-affected people, all that the petitioner sought was a reading down of the wide-ranging provision, which imposes life sentence on those found to have carnal intercourse against the order of nature. Much as the provision sounds archaic, there is little likelihood of it being repealed as the relief sought by the petitioner, by its own admission, has been framed to ensure the continuance of applicability of Section 377 to cases involving children or cases involving non-consensual sex.

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