Professor Suzanne B. Goldberg Says the Ruling Endangers Human Rights of LGBT Indians.

 

Media Contact: Public Affairs, 212-854-2650 or publicaffairs@law.columbia.edu

New York, December 12, 2013—A ruling by India’s Supreme Court Wednesday reinstating a colonial-era law banning gay sex “bends the arc of the moral and legal universe… away from justice,” Columbia Law School Professor Suzanne B. Goldberg wrote in a response to the decision.

The Indian high court’s opinion reverses a 2009 lower court ruling declaring the law unconstitutional. Known as Section 377, the law demands imprisonment for anyone who “voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature.” It has been used—repeatedly and damagingly—against members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities in India.

“In finding that the Indian Constitution does not protect the right of consenting adults to engage in sexual intimacy, the two-judge panel cut directly against the overwhelming trend in courts around the world to reject these kinds of laws as violating basic individual rights to privacy and equality,” Goldberg wrote on the Gender and Sexuality Law Blog run by Columbia Law School’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, which Goldberg co-directs.

Goldberg compared the outrage following the decision to protests in the United States in the wake of Bowers v. Hardwick, a 1986 U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding a sodomy law in Georgia.

The response to the Indian Supreme Court’s action is a signal the decision “reflects the nation’s past but does not likely reflect the future,” Goldberg wrote.

Goldberg, a former senior staff attorney at Lambda Legal Defense, is an expert in gender and sexuality law. She served as co-counsel in Lawrence v. Texas, a 2003 decision overturning Bowers, and Romer v. Evans, a 2006 case invalidating a Colorado law blocking anti-discrimination protections for gay people.

View Goldberg’s blog post, which has since been republished at the Huffington Post.

Sudhir Krishnaswamy, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Visiting Professor of Indian Constitutional Law at Columbia Law School and Professor of Law at Azim Premji University, has also issued a response to the case.

To speak to Goldberg, please call the Columbia Law School Public Affairs Office at 212-854-2650, email publicaffairs@law.columbia.edu, or contact her directly via the information on her faculty bio page. The Law School also has a studio on campus equipped with an ISDN line and IFB capability for radio and television interviews. Please contact the Public Affairs Office for bookings.

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