The Delhi High Court ruled today to decriminalize sexual activity between consenting same sex partners in New Delhi, India’s capital. This groundbreaking decision was made after eight years of proceedings and campaigning from gay rights activists. The first lawsuit seeking legalization of homosexuality in New Delhi was filed in 2001 by a gay rights NGO, the Naz Foundation, according to the Economic Times.
The Court’s decision was immediately criticized by India’s leading religious leaders, who have fought to keep sexual acts between same sex partners criminal. But gay rights activists believe the ruling will protect New Delhi’s gay community from criminal charges and police harassment.
Homosexuality has been illegal in New Delhi since the British colonial era, which classified it as “against the order of nature.” Before today’s ruling, 10 years was a typical punishment for gay sex. Anjali Gopalan, the executive director of the Naz Foundation told the Associated Press, “I’m so excited, and I haven’t been able to process the news yet, we’ve finally entered the 21st century.”