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Love wins: Strengthening LGBTI rights in India

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), through its Asia-Pacific Regional Office, welcomes the landmark ruling by the Supreme Court of India striking down a key component of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalized specific sexual acts between adults, a law dating back to British colonial rule that has targeted LGBTI individuals and communities in particular.


As the UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency, UNFPA has long striven to ensure that all individuals have the right to make informed choices in the most personal realms of their lives.


Every person, without any distinction on any grounds, has an equal right to live free from violence, persecution, discrimination and stigma of any kind. Human rights are universal. Cultural, religious and moral practices and beliefs, and social attitudes must not be invoked to justify human rights violations against any individual or group, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.


Sexual orientation and gender expression form an integral part of an individual’s identity the world over, and stigma and discrimination based on these attributes constitute an egregious violation of human rights. Today’s decision by the Supreme Court of India reiterates that the social fabric of modern Indian society still holds the essence of diversity and inclusion close to its heart.   


We sincerely hope that this genuinely historic ruling will lead to constructive dialogue and greater understanding of the issues at stake, making society at large a welcoming and safe space for LGBTI individuals in the world’s largest democracy.  


We also congratulate the LGBTI communities of India and their allies who have struggled for many years to reach this point. Their perseverance, hard work and determination in fighting for their rights have transcended national boundaries, and have formed an integral part of the global movement that strives to achieve freedom, liberty and equality for all.


UNFPA stands ready to support United Nations Member States and other stakeholders as they work to tackle head-on the many challenges facing LGBTIQ citizens. As a global community, we must respect, protect, promote and fulfil the human rights of every LGBTIQ person.