NEW DELHI, India (AP):
India's Supreme Court yesterday struck down a 2009 lower court decision to decriminalise homosexuality, dealing a blow to gay activists who have fought for years for the chance to live openly in India's deeply conservative society.
The judges said only lawmakers and not the courts could change a colonial-era law criminalising homosexuality.
The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community across India reacted to the surprise decision with defiance.
"We cannot be forced back into the closet. We are not backing off from our fight against discrimination," said Gautam Bhan, an activist who had petitioned the court.
After the ruling, dozens of activists outside the court began crying and hugging each other in consolation.
"This is a very sad day for us, we are back to square one in our fight for the democratic rights of the gay community," said Ashok Row Kavi of the activist group Humsafar Trust.
Lawyers and supporters of gays, lesbians and transsexuals vowed to continue pressing for the removal of the law, which they say encourages discrimination, even if it is rarely invoked by prosecutors.
"We feel very let down," said lawyer Anand Grover, who had argued the case on behalf of the advocacy group NAZ Foundation. "But our fight is not over, and we will continue to fight for the constitutional right."
He said the foundation would ask for the Supreme Court's decision to be reviewed.