The US Supreme Court on Monday ended the first legal challenge to a Republican-backed MS law that permits businesses and government employees to refuse to serve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people due to their religious beliefs. But earlier petitions to review the ban were overturned by the court.
With the apex court referring the matter to a larger bench, here is a quick recap of the controversial law's recent history through five must-know latest developments. The decision was about two similar lawsuits against HB 1523 - Barber v. Bryant and Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant - both of which the Supreme Court said Monday that it would not take up. "The time has come that either the courts must read down Section 377 or the government should repeal it from the IPC".
The lesbian gay bisexual transgender (LGBT) community has been demanding scrapping of Section 377 of the IPC, under which consensual sexual acts between members of the same sex are an offence entailing punishment up to life term.
In 2009, the Delhi High Court had described Section 377 as a violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution.
The Nationalist Congress Party, however, urged the court to consider the "sentimental and religious" impact of any landmark decision. "It has the potential to destroy individual choice and sexual orientation", adding that right to privacy means "I have a right to choose my sexual partner". But lower courts, without ruling on the merits of the law, said those suing could not show that they would be harmed by it. Littrell says that now that the Supreme Court has declined to take up the case, she believes more LGBT individuals will be tangibly harmed by state officials, religious organizations and service providers. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court's decision today leaves LGBT people in MS in the crosshairs of hate and humiliation, delaying justice and equality. A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said the issue arising out of section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) required to be debated upon by a larger bench.
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The law, passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature and signed by Republican Governor Phillip Bryant with the backing of conservative Christian activists, has not yet been implemented and more legal challenges are expected, according to gay rights lawyers. It also asked the Centre to include them in the OBC quota.