Won't Oppose Scrapping Homosexuality Ban, Says Muslim Law Board

Won't Oppose Scrapping Homosexuality Ban, Says Muslim Law Board

NEW DELHI: The All India Muslim Personal Law Board will not contest a move to scrap the colonial-era ban on homosexuality if the Supreme Court decides to do so, the organisation said today.

"We left the matter to the Supreme Court. We will not participate in the (Section) 377 proceedings," AIMPLB member Yusuf Hatim Muchhala told NDTV.

The 157-year-old Section 377 bans gay sex in India, considered taboo by many despite increasing calls for its repeal. Despite opposition to lifting the ban from other petitioners and some lawmakers, activists are hopeful of a positive judgment from the Supreme Court which is reviewing it. Earlier this week, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra had indicated the Supreme Court is likely to scrap the law.

In the past, the Muslim law board had opposed scrapping the ban in the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court. The non-governmental organisation had been constituted in the 1970s to integrate Islamic law into the mainstream. Homosexuality is forbidden in traditional Islamic jurisprudence.

The Supreme Court had on Tuesday began a long-awaited review of Section 377 which prohibits "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal" - which is widely interpreted to refer to homosexual sex. Gay sex is punishable by up to 10 years in jail.

The central government has said that it would leave it to "the wisdom" of the court to decide the constitutional validity of the law.

Lawyers for petitioners seeking to scrap the law have argued that sexual orientation is an intrinsic part of individual identity.

The court will resume hearing arguments from groups which support the homosexuality ban on Tuesday.