After a Supreme Court ruling in December 2013 upheld Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which criminalizes homosexuality, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and his predecessor P Chidambaram spoke along the same lines in support of the LGBT community on Saturday.
During the Times LitFest, the duo who are usually on opposite sides of debates spoke in unison about how the ‘Supreme Court should not have reversed the Delhi High Court order de-criminalizing consensual sex between gay adults and that the top court's view was not in sync with contemporary legal thought on the development of gay rights across the world’.
The Supreme Court’s decision came after the Delhi High Court in 2009 ruled that the law which criminalizes sex between adult homosexual men, was unconstitutional.
The apex court overruled the judgement after hearing a PIL from various religious groups and said that parliamentarians should decide on annulling the law through legislation.
Jaitley’s “personal” views on Article 377 are clearly in favour of decriminalization, but his party’s view on it is diametrically opposite to his own.
Here’s a look at what different political parties had said back then:
According to an article that appeared in Times of India in December 2013, parties across the political spectrum such as the Congress, JD (U) and CPI (M) expressed unanimity in condemning the Supreme Court’s order re-criminalising Article 377 of the Constitution.
Brinda Karat, CPI (M): "SC order today is completely retrograde. Criminalizing alternative sexuality is wrong.”
MP Derek O’Brien, TMC: "Way back in 2006, I spoke up to decriminalize Section 377 (homosexuality) along with Amartya Sen, Vikram Seth, Shyam Bengal and others. My views on gay rights are no different today."
Milind Deora, Congress MP: "The same SC that was so wise yesterday on lal battis (red beacon) has disappointed us today with its verdict on Section 377. It is about personal choice, SC."
D Raja, CPI National Secretary: "No legislation should become an instrument of criminalization. The judgment should be examined.”
Piyush Goel, BJP, Rajya Sabha MP: "In the modern age, every individual has the freedom of choice, and we should respect it. There is nothing 'unnatural' in these relationships and I hope that the subject is reviewed/law amended at the earliest."
However, the party’s official view remains opposed to de-criminalization of homosexual sex.
"We will state (at an all-party meeting if it is called) that we support Section 377 because we believe that homosexuality is an unnatural act and cannot be supported," said then BJP President Rajnath Singh.
SP: The Samajwadi Party has made it clear that it will oppose any amendments to Section 377 if it comes in Parliament for discussion.