In a major setback to gay rights activists, the Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to review its December 11 judgment, holding that homosexuality or unnatural sex between two consenting adults was illegal.

A Bench of Justices H. L. Dattu and S. J. Mukhopadhaya held that this provision (Section 377 of the IPC) did not suffer from any constitutional infirmity and said there were no grounds to interfere with the order.

The Centre, the Naz Foundation and several gay activists had filed petitions for a review of the judgment.

Now, the option before them is to file a curative petition, which will be heard by four or five senior-most judges. Naz Foundation executive director Anjali Gopalan did not seem surprised.

“The decision was on expected lines as there is a very rare chance of a petition getting heard. It shows the issue is not at all important for them.”

Anjan Joshi of NGO Empowerment, another group fighting for decriminalising gay sex, said his organisation would file a curative petition. “It [the ruling] is very disappointing. How can they not see any important reason for reviewing the ruling?”

In the evening, members of the Naz Foundation and other gay rights activists staged a demonstration at Jantar Mantar.

In its petition, the Centre said the law must reflect social change and the aspirations of society. “There has been a sea change, not just in India but all over the world, in the law on homosexuality. A majority of the countries have legalised homosexuality.”

Section 377, it maintained, “was introduced not as a reflection of existing Indian values and traditions. It was imposed on the Indian society owing to the moral values of the colonisers.”

Central government and gay rights activists had filed petitions for a review

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