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India's Supreme Court To Revisit Homosexuality Ruling Next Week

A panel of judges will consider reversing a decision issued in December 2013 that reinstated the country’s colonial-era sodomy law, a source tells BuzzFeed News.

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WASHINGTON — India's Supreme Court has scheduled a new hearing in the challenge to the country's law criminalizing homosexuality, a member of the legal team challenging the law confirmed to BuzzFeed News on Thursday.

The lawyer, who declined to comment on the record for this story, said the team had been notified by the court’s registrar the hearing was scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 2.

This new hearing is on what is known as a “curative petition,” a motion to reconsider a Supreme Court judgment that has already been issued. A panel of judges will consider reversing the decision issued in December 2013 that reinstated the country’s colonial-era sodomy law — known as Section 377 — which had been suspended for four years following a 2009 lower court ruling. This curative petition is the final appeal available to have the 2013 ruling reversed.

Nearly 600 people were reportedly arrested under the provision in the year after it came back into effect, according to statistics from India's Home Ministry, though LGBT activists have been concerned the law would primarily serve as a pretense for police harassment or extortion.

Though a previous motion to reverse the 2013 ruling was unsuccessful, LGBT activists were hopeful that a strong ruling supporting transgender rights issued the following year could provide a basis for revisiting the question.

The judges in that case did not comment directly on the 2013 ruling, but they wrote, “Discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation or gender identity, therefore, impairs equality before law and equal protection of law.”

J. Lester Feder is a world correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. His secure PGP fingerprint is 2353 DB68 8AA6 92BD 67B8 94DF 37D8 0A6F D70B 7211

Contact J. Lester Feder at lester.feder@buzzfeed.com.

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