Bollywood Stars Share Disappointment After Indian Court Reinstates Gay Sex Ban
India's gay rights activists described Wednesday as a “black day,” following a judgment by the country's Supreme Court that overturned an earlier ruling decriminalizing homosexuality.
In 2009, in what was considered a historic judgment, the Delhi High Court decriminalized homosexual intercourse between consenting adults following a petition filed by Naz Foundation, a non-governmental organization that works in the areas of HIV/Aids and sexual health. Naz had challenged the Indian Penal Code's Section 377, introduced during British colonial rule which criminalized sexual activity “against the order of nature” and stated a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
PHOTOS: Gay Marriage, or Not, in Global Cinema
But Wednesday's Supreme Court judgment has set aside the 2009 Delhi High Court order, observing that Section 377 “is a valid constitutional provision.” The judgment also stated that any changes in Section 377 can be made through legislation referring the matter to Parliament since “the judiciary has no role in it.” The Supreme Court bench also said Parliament is authorized to delete section 377, but while the penal provision exists, “the court cannot legalize this kind of sexual relationship.”
“What does this say of us as a culture, as a people? This is really very sad. It is taking us a 100 years back,” Naz foundation member Anjali was quoted stating in local reports.
“This is a black day for all of us citizens of modern India; we are very disappointed by the verdict,” added Amnesty International India chief executive G. Ananthapadmanabhan, “It is going to be a long and uncertain route now. There's no doubt that a historic move has been lost.”
But some religious figures and groups have welcomed the judgment, such as well-known yoga guru Baba Ramdev, who has strongly opposed homosexuality. “The court has respected the sentiments of millions of Indians and declared homosexuality a crime,” he said.
All India Muslim Personal Board member Zafaryab Jilani -- who was among the petitioners in the Supreme Court -- said the judgment “has been done to keep our culture intact. This has been done to respect all religions.”
But leading Bollywood celebrities expressed disappointment at the verdict as they shared their views on social media.
“Freedom is such a deceptive term. Rights are an ambiguous mystery,” actress Anushka Sharma posted on Twitter.
“Its frightening how someone else decides how when and who you should love -- basically freedom of choice isn't legal anymore,” posted actress Shruti Haasan.
“Only a highly uninformed mind can have [the] arrogance of assuming that consenting adults having sex is any of their business” tweeted director Anand Gandhi (Ship of Theseus).
“The Supreme Court got it wrong today,” tweeted actor-director Farhan Akhtar.
Actress Mia Farrow also shared her views posting a series of tweets: "Canceled trip to India. My wife and I would not feel welcome there... Well- when I have a wife- we won't be going to India."