The Trinidad court that overturned the Caribbean nation’s anti-sodomy law has played a role 9,000 miles away, where the Indian Supreme Court is weighing whether to overturn the similar anti-gay law there.
Both nations inherited the law from their years as British colonies.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi, speaking in opposition to the Indian law Section 377 in a court session last week, said it is based on “archaic Judeo-Christian norms of collective morality. This section deems any instance of non-procreative, heterosexual intercourse as a unnatural, and warranting of a maximum punishment of imprisonment for life.”
Rohtagi criticized the language of the law, which criminalizes sexual activity that is “against the order of nature.” First Post quoted him as saying:
“It uses the word ‘order of nature’. What is this order? It is the Victorian morals of 1860s,” argued Rohatgi, emphasised that ancient Indian order was very different. …
“Our order is much older,” Rohatgi said and pointed to Shikhandi in the Mahabharata. [Shikhandi is a character in the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, who changes gender from female to male.]
Senior Advocate Arvind Datar cited the Trinidad ruling as a reason for overturning Section 377. Similarly, the Trinidad court, in its decision to overturn the Trinidad anti-sodomy law, had cited an earlier ruling of the Indian Supreme Court.
The online Trinidadian news site LoopTT.com reported that Jason Jones, the appellant in the Trinidad case, welcomed the role his case was playing in India’s Supreme Court:
“I could not be more proud to see my name and Trinidad & Tobago being used to help free MILLIONS of LGBT people in India from the shackles of criminalisation. A great moment for me, my legal team, our Country and our Judiciary,” he said. …
[Indian] Senior advocate Arvind Datar cited the case of Jason Jones vs Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago, saying there is nothing against the order of nature in same-sex acts.
- India on brink of biggest gay rights victory as Supreme Court prepares to rule on gay sex ban Landmark ruling will have far-reaching and direct implications for other Commonwealth nations that still outlaw homosexuality (July 2018,The Independent)
- Indian Supreme Court cites T&T case in debate to decriminalise gay sex (July 2018, LoopTT.com)
- How Trinidad and Tobago played a key role in India’s ongoing LGBT hearing (July 2018, Economic Times)
- Section 377 hearing in Supreme Court: Mukul Rohatgi tells bench IPC section based on Victorian morals, not ancient India (July 2018, First Post)
- India: Supreme Court moves toward action on anti-LGBT law (
- Archive of this blog’s articles about Section 377
- Archive of this blog’s articles about India