Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Friday sought to introduce a bill in the Lok Sabha to introduce a private member’s bill. The purpose? To amend the Indian Penal Code. Rather to amend a very specific section of the law, Section 377, in order to decriminalise homosexual relations.
The bill came up for introduction and very swiftly this happened:
Basically there will be no more debate on it since the bill has been rejected.
Our parliamentarians have decided that this isn’t even a subject worth debating since they evidently have much bigger things to discuss than the fundamental rights of a minority.
So what exactly did the bill propose to do?
The bill proposed to decriminalise homosexual sex between two consenting adults, says this report. It proposed to allow a criminal case to be filed under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code only if it was a case of assault or if there was duress.
It also proposed that punishment be awarded to those indulging in non-consensual homosexual sex under a new section 377 A.
Tharoor expectedly wasn’t too happy about the proceedings in Parliament and tweeted:
1/2 Intro of Pvt.Member’s Bill2decriminalize consensual sex btwn consenting adults defeated in LS 71-24. Surprising to see such intolerance.— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) December 18, 2015
2/2 Notice of intent to oppose introducn of Bill came so late there was no time 2rally support. Will try again in future. We shall overcome!— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) December 18, 2015
But here’s the problem with what happened in Parliament
The bill, despite its progressive nature, got just 24 votes in favour of introduction. Even the Congress has 45 MPs in the Lok Sabha. According to Tharoor he didn’t have adequate time to rally support, but the fact that not even all his party’s MPs were present for the bill shows that neither the government nor the opposition really believes in even debating the subject.
The Congress MP isn’t even the only MP, who suggests that Section 377 should be decriminalised. He even had received support from one of the biggest power centres in the government, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. But leaders across political parties are opposed to it, as this range of reactions shows.
No one even knows when the next such bill will be introduced. The Law Minister who reportedly briefly showed some interest in debating the subject has since said it is a sensitive subject. So the government is out. And evidently even the opposition won’t back MPs who try and bring in private bills.