What is Section 377?

Section 377 is a British-Colonial Era law which effectively outlaws same-sex, sexual relations between men. It was installed in 41 former British colonises.

The text of the law reads,

377. Unnatural offences: Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Explanation: Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section.

It is still in place in countries across the world, most notably in Singapore, where activists have tried to have the law dismissed.

What does Section 377 mean?

Activists in India were able, in 2018, to have the law struck down, but only after years of campaigning and u-turns from the Government.

The UN has said that the law defies international law

The law still stands in Malaysia, Singapore (see Section 377A of the Penal Code of Singapore), Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, and Jamaica.

Section 377 is the model for similar laws that remain in force in Bhutan, Brunei, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu, Samoa, Malawi, Mauritius, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka (as Article 365 of the Sri Lankan Penal Code), Ghana, The Gambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia

Can you expand this definition? Use the comments below and your answer could be used to expand or define this glossary entry.

Check out more definitions in our Big Gay Glossary

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