The 150-year-old law basically ensured that those found guilty of participating in gay sex could be charged with a possible life sentence. Even though it was rarely put into practice, it’s abolishment is a huge step for India, human rights and the LGBTQ community in general.

The law, known as Section 377, was first instated in India during the colonial era under British rule and has been used to ostracise LGBTQ+ people for decades. CNN reports that lawyers who fought the law in court stated that Section 377 caused societal fear of homosexuals and implied that they went “against the order of nature.”

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Members of India’s Supreme Court voted unanimously to end the ban, and India’s chief justice, Dipak Misra, declared Section 377 “irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary.”

The court then agreed that gay citizens of India are entitled to all constitutional protections, and discrimination against citizens based on sexuality is now deemed illegal. The New York Times reported that Indian justices said homosexuality is “natural” and that the Indian Constitution is not a “collection of mere dead letters.”

Crowds of supporters and activists stood outside the courthouse on the day, anxiously waiting to hear the final verdict. When the Section 377 ban was lifted, there was an eruption of emotion with many crying and cheering.

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"This decision is basically saying, 'You are not alone,'" said head lawyer representing gay petitioners, Menaka Guruswamy, as per The NYT. “The court stands with you. The Constitution stands with you. And therefore your country stands with you."

There are still many conservative laws out there that need to be changed and addressed not just in India, but all over the world. But this ruling has gone a long way into making sure members of the LGBTQ community now feel a little more accepted and perhaps even safer.

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