India’s Supreme Court Declares Freedom of Sexual Orientation a Fundamental Right

In a historic decision Thursday, India’s Supreme Court declared that an individual’s sexual orientation is protected under the country’s Right to Privacy law.

“Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy. Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual,” the Supreme Court judgment stated.

Members of the LGBT community across cities hailed the verdict and said it would boost their fight against a 2013 top court judgment – popularly known as the Suresh Koushal verdict – that left it to Parliament to scrap section 377 that bans “unnatural sex”, reported the Hindustan Times.

“I welcome this judgment. It is a relief to hear sexuality spoken of in the language of rights and dignity,” said Gautam Bhan, a professor, activist and one of the original petitioners in the petition against section 377.

India is one of a handful of modern democracies that criminalize same-sex relationships and LGBT people often face blackmail, threats and violence as a result.