Gay Sex Bans: One of the British Empire's Most Enduring Legacies

tags: gay history, British Empire, India



Gwynn Guilford is a reporter and editor for Quartz.

When India’s supreme court effectively re-banned gay sex on Wednesday, it set aside the ruling of one of its own high courts in favor of a law imposed on India by its British occupiers in 1861. That means it has now re-joined 75 other countries that explicitly punish gay sex with imprisonment....

What do many of these countries have in common? More than half were former British colonies...

In fact, the law that India’s supreme court just upheld is one of the most resilient relics of the British Empire. Known as Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, it imposed Victorian values on what colonial rulers viewed as unpardonable tolerance toward homosexuality throughout their empire. The British instituted versions of Section 377 in colonies all over the world. India’s ruling on Wednesday brings the tally to 42 out of 52 British Commonwealth countries in which the law is still on the books....



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