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Gay Hotelier Fighting a Legal Battle Against Section 377

Section 377

Section 377

33 years old Keshav Suri, executive director of The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, filed a petition with the Supreme Court challenging Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that criminalizes a consensual relationship between consenting adults of the same sex.

The court has agreed to hear his plea and has sought a response from the center within a week.

Suri reportedly identifies himself as a part of India’s LGBTQ community and wants India to allow an individual the right to choose his or her partner.

His counsel, senior lawyer and former Attorney General, Mukul Rohtagi told the Supreme Court on April 23 that the “petitioner himself has suffered mentally and has been stigmatized on account of his sexual orientation at personal and professional fronts.”

India criminalizes “unnatural” sexual intercourse under Section 377. Under this law, “whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

The petition also said a large number of the demography of the country cannot live in discrimination and denial of their fundamental rights and that criminalization of homosexuals is based on stigma and the same stigma is being perpetuated by the legal system.

Keshav Suri is the son of the late hotelier, Lalit Suri, the founding chairman and owner of Bharat Hotels, which runs the Lalit Suri Hospitality Group.

The SC’s 2013 ruling had dealt a big blow to the LGBTQ community by overturning a 2009 judgment of the Delhi HC, which had decriminalized Section 377 of the IPC to legally permit consensual sexual relationships in private between adults of the same sex.

However, the Supreme Court is now considering reviewing the section after a group of five petitioners sought to get it scrapped in January this year.