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Is gay sex a crime? Centre says it does not contest the right to choose a partner

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New Delhi: The Union of India does not contest an individual’s right to choose a partner, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta made the statement while representing the Centre during a Supreme Court hearing of a batch of petitions demanding amendments to Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

The government has left it to the Supreme Court to take a call on the 150-year-old ban on gay sex in India.

In effect, the Centre neither supports nor opposes the decriminalisation of gay sex in India. In its affidavit to the court, the government has said it leaves the decision of the validity of Section 377 to “the wisdom of the court”.

The court, it said, is also free to decide whether Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code is constitutionally valid.

A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court is hearing arguments on the 19th-Century law that criminalises “unnatural sex, against the order of nature”, which is punishable with life imprisonment.

The bench comprises Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, and Justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.

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