Friday, March 6, 2009

Section 377 Used - Times of India FrontPage News

Today's Times Of India's Bombay edition has this story about a wife taking her husband to court for being gay and having homosexual relationships. This news got FrontPage billing bringing the whole Section 377 debate to the forefront. Looks like the police are or will be using Section 377 to prosecute the guy.

While I'll not get into the whole infidelity debate, its good to know that TOI has always been positive as far tolerance and education about homosexuality is concerned. The coverage of this news items looks balanced and they have positively mentioned the Bombay High Court's observation some time back that "There are lots of changes taking place in the social milieu and many people have different sexual preferences, which are not even considered to be unnatural’’. The current PIL against Section 377 in the Delhi High Court has also been mentioned. In that case the arguments are over, the bench has heard all the sides and a judgement is awaited any time now. The bench was very positive throughout the proceedings but that does not mean the judgement will definitely be on our side. Time will tell what happens but one thing is for sure, the judgement will have great repercussions throughout the country.

Lets hope it goes our way and gay guys in India get to see the first step towards elimination of discrimination based on sexuality.

Here's the full story from the Times of India:

Gay businessman taken to court by wife

Mumbai: A sessions court at Fort has been busy hearing an unusual matter—a wealthy businessman and a sailor with the merchant navy have had to plead for protection from arrest after the wife of the former alleged that the duo was in a homosexual relationship. The Gamdevi police even registered a case under Section 377 of the IPC—the law that criminalises homosexual relations—against the two.

Ratan Shrivastav, 39, a resident of Peddar Road, and his wife Pooja, 37, got married in 1994 and have an eight-year-old son. Pooja, however, alleges that Ratan “kept having relationships with several men’’ which was “hampering her married life’’. She also said that she had often sent Ratan to a counsellor but that did not improve their marital relations. The complaint also says that there are CDs in which Ratan can be seen in a compromising position with other men.

In his anticipatory bail plea, Ratan did not deny that he was gay. He said he first went to the cops in January when he was told that a non-cognisable complaint had been registered against him for slapping Pooja.

Last year, the Bombay HC said that the controversial Section 377 of the IPC that deals with ‘unnatural sex’ needed a relook. “There are lots of changes taking place in the social milieu and many people have different sexual preferences, which are not even considered to be unnatural,’’ said the judgment in the Anchorage paedophilia case

Mum unaware of son’s homosexual relations
Mumbai: Peddar Road businessman Ratan Shrivastav and his sailor friend moved the court for anticipatory bail after Ratan’s wife lodged a noncognisable complaint against them at Gamdevi police station. Thereafter, a police constable even came to his residence on February 9 and asked his mother whether Ratan was a homosexual. His mother replied that it was his personal matter and she had no knowledge of it.

Ratan moved court on February 27 when he realised that on a specific complaint by Pooja the police had registered a case under Section 377 against him and his alleged partner, Damien Christopher, 28, the sailor. Ratan feared that he was going to be arrested for custodial interrogation since homosexuality remains a cognizable offence under Indian law. He thus rushed to court for protection and the same day was granted interim anticipatory bail till March 7.

On Thursday, the court heard the anticipatory bail plea of Christopher. Judge D U Mulla wondered whether there was any need for custody in such matters. He observed that there was no evidence that Pooja had been harassed or whether police needed to collect any material evidence. The court granted anticipatory bail to Christopher. Ratan’s own plea will come up for hearing again on Saturday.

(Names have been changed to protect the identities of the parties involved)

Gay rights activists have filed a PIL in the Delhi HC seeking exclusion of consensual homosexual activity from the ambit of an offence

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