NEW DELHI – Hundreds of gay rights activists gathered in India’s capital and other cities across the country on Sunday to protest a decision by India’s top court to uphold a law that criminalizes gay sex.
India’s Supreme Court last week reversed a landmark 2009 lower court order that had decriminalized gay sex. The country’s gay community is demanding that the government take immediate action to remove the colonial-era law banning same-sex sexual relations.
About 800 protesters in New Delhi, the capital, wore black arm bands Sunday and waved rainbow-colored flags and banners. Some people wore masks and wigs to protect their identity. They said the Supreme Court’s ruling had evoked anger and dismay across the country.
The activists said they were in the process of taking legal steps to undo the court’s decision and that Sunday’s protest was to make their voices heard.
“It’s my fundamental right to decide who I should love,” said Rohan Mehta, a New Delhi-based businessman who was among the demonstrators. “I will not let the court deprive me of my rights.”
The court ruled Wednesday that only lawmakers could change the law that bans gay sex and makes it punishable by up to a decade in prison.
The ruling dealt a blow to gay activists who have fought for years for the chance to live openly in India’s deeply conservative society.
Similar protests were organized Sunday in several Indian cities, with groups of gay and human rights activists urging a rollback of the top court’s decision.