India's highest court illegalises gay sex
India's highest court illegalises gay sex - (Reuters file photo)

Pronouncing its eagerly awaited verdict on homosexuality, the Supreme Court of India has criminalised consensual sex between two adults of the same gender.

LGBT activists present in the court room broke down on hearing the verdict. Their relationships had earlier been legalised by the Delhi High Court.

"It is for legislature to look into desirability of deleting section 377 of IPC [Indian Penal Code]," said the court. Section 377 states any sexual relationship against the order of nature is an offence and can be punished with life imprisonment.

Such convictions have been rare in India but activists say officials use the legislation to harass homosexuals.

Human rights activists have heaped scorn on the court's judgement. Lawyer Arvind Narrain said: "This is a black day for the community. The judgement is a huge disappointment. We will take the issue forward, we will fight back."

"The judgement is backward looking. This is very sad judgement," added another lawyer, Collin Gonsalves.

Historian and columnist Ramachandra Guha wrote on his twitter account: "The Supreme Court judgement on Article 377 is a step backwards towards barbarism and medievalism."

The verdict was pronounced by JS Singhvi on the day of his retirement. The verdict had been kept reserved for nine months.