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At least 587 arrests under Indian anti-sodomy law in 2014

Protest against Section 377 in Sangli, India (Aarthi Pai photo via Orinam)
Protest against Section 377 in Sangli, India (Aarthi Pai photo via Orinam)

New Delhi media reported that 778 cases were registered and 587 people arrested under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code in 2014 according to Home Ministry statistics. These statistics were gathered starting one month after the December 2013 judgement when the Supreme Court struck down the 2009 Delhi High Court verdict which had decriminalised homosexuality.

Section 377 makes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” a crime without distinguishing between consensual sex and rape. The Home Ministry’s statistics specified neither the ages of the people involved nor  the number of 2014’s Section 377 arrests that concerned only consensual sex.

In addition, the Deccan Herald reported that these numbers do not provide the full story because some states, including Karnataka and West Bengal, have not yet provided statistics to federal agencies. Other states did not provide data for every month last year.

States including Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh provided data until October, Delhi, which topped the list with 140 cases and 110 arrests, provided numbers only until September. Uttar Pradesh, in second place with 127 cases and 36 arrests, gave information for only six months.

In Haryana state, 99 people were arrested, while Maharashtra state put 89 individuals in prison under Section 377. Kerala state reported 69 cases and 64 arrests.  Madhya Pradesh reports 64 cases and 48 arrests.

Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of India (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Section 377 data collection started only in 2014. The Indian National Crime Records Bureau told the Deccan Herald that it started collecting the data under the monthly crime statistics from January 2014 and does not have any statistics for the previous years.

Describing Section 377 as something that takes away their dignity, privacy and rights, the LGBT community has approached the Supreme Court of India seeking an annulment of its order to reinstate Section 377.

The Deccan Herald reported on New Year’s day that the LGBT community also appealed to the government to repeal the section from the Indian Penal Code, but the Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary recently told Parliament that the government has no “separate proposal to repeal or amend Section 377”.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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