International Commission of Jurists asks Govt to repeal Section 377.

International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), an international human rights NGO of lawyers and judges, has urged the Indian government to abolish Section 377 that criminalises homosexuality with a  provision of lifetime imprisonment.

The Telegraph reports the ICJ recommended that Indian authorities end discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity in the formal justice system.

The report said, “Repeal Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and vaguely worded criminal laws that invite discriminatory application, or substantially revise them to ensure there is no scope for abuse in their enforcement,”

The 60-page report – Unnatural Offences: Obstacles to Justice in India Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity – documents the challenges “queer persons” in the country often face.

The ICJ said its study was based on 150 interviews across nine cities, including with people identified as LGBT and those who may not fit any of these categories. It said most such people face problems while trying to access justice, starting from the impact of laws to police harassment and discrimination.

Sam Zarifi, the ICJ’s Asia director, said, “Criminalisation, police violence, and the prejudiced attitudes of officials… have a profoundly detrimental impact on the ability and willingness of queer persons to resort to legal avenues to obtain justice. The systemic discrimination and violence faced by queer persons in India, and the challenges they face accessing justice, are clearly contrary to India’s international human rights law obligations and the Indian Constitution.”

The report has made several recommendations to Indian govt including:

  • Ensure police officers promptly register and investigate any complaint regarding violence on queer people.

  • Provide legal and sensitisation training relating to sexual orientation and gender identity to lawyers and judges

  • Make outreach programmes to facilitate queer individuals’ access to the justice system.
  • Repeal section 377

The ICJ said Indian authorities had an “obligation” to “respect, protect and fulfil” the rights to equality before the law and freedom from discrimination; including the right to life, freedom from torture and “other ill-treatment” of “queer persons”.

Source: The Telegraph

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