POLITICS
06/09/2018 1:55 PM IST | Updated 07/09/2018 12:27 PM IST

Section 377: BJP Has Nothing To Say About Supreme Court's Historic Verdict Legalizing Gay Sex

The BJP's official Twitter handle has been tweeting about the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan

Hindustan Times via Getty Images

NEW DELHI — The Supreme Court's historic verdict decriminalizing gay sex today prompted an outpouring of joy and celebration across the country.

But with the exception of a few leaders, India's politicians have nothing to say about the Supreme Court verdict. While the Congress Party took the lead in congratulating the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has stayed mum about the landmark ruling.

Almost an hour after the Supreme Court read down Section 377 of Indian Penal Code, the colonial era law criminalizing homosexuality, the BJP was tweeting about the Modi government's Swachh Bharat campaign. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's usually busy account was silent as well.

Earlier this year, BJP leader and Rajya Sabha lawmaker, Subramanian Swamy, said homosexuality is a danger to national security. Following the verdict today, Swamy said, "The Supreme Court refused to strike down that part of Section 377 IPC which made sex with animals a crime. Does this interfere with fundamental rights too?"

Even Congress leaders have expressed bigoted opinions. In 2011, when he was health minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad called homosexuality a "disease."

In 2013, the Supreme Court had overturned the Delhi High Court's order decriminalizing consensual gay sex, ruling that it was up to the Parliament to strike down Section 377. In 2015, a private member's Bill seeking to amend Section 377, was killed before it could be presented in the Lok Sabha for debate.

Congress lawmaker Shashi Tharoor tweeted today, "This decision vindicates my stand on Section 377 and on exactly the same grounds of privacy, dignity and constitutional freedoms. It shames those BJP MPs who vociferously opposed me in LS."

While BJP leaders in the past have opposed the LGBT community's demand for equality, the Modi government left the fate of Section 377 to the Supreme Court.

"So far as the constitutional validity Section 377 to the extent it applies to consensual acts of adults in private is concerned, the Union of India would leave the said question to the wisdom of this Hon'ble Court," additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, told the court in July.

BJP leaders and cabinet ministers, Arun Jaitley and Prakash Javadekar, have spoken in favor of decriminalizing Section 377.

In 2016, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological parent of the BJP, clarified its stand: we disapprove socially, but decriminalize homosexuality. "Homosexuality is not a crime, but socially immoral act in our society. No need to punish, but to be treated as a psychological case," Dattatreya Hosable, a top leader of the RSS tweeted at the time.

Today, RSS functionary Arun Kumar said the RSS does not believe homosexuality is a crime, but marriages between same sex partners are against nature, Press Trust of India reported.

Update: BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia is the only leader from his party to have publicly welcomed the judgment. "Proud of our Supreme Court," he tweeted. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader Kanimozhi, tweeted, "Personal choices we make in our lives should not be dictated by law - well done SC for this historic verdict."

Here's how our politicians reacted to the Supreme Court's verdict. HuffPost India will update this story as more reactions come in.