What is Section 377?

Sec 377 of the Indian Penal code makes carnal intercourse, or any non-procreative sexual act between a man and a woman illegal, punishable with up to 10 years in jail and/or a fine. Basically, if you’re gay and having sex, you’re most likely violating Section 377!

How does it affect me as a gay man/woman and why should I care?

Since the LGBT can only indulge in sexual acts that are not peno-vaginal, this section directly affects them. As LGBT, this section denies you the rights that straight people have (freedom of choice) and forms the basis for several other forms of discrimination against you.

What is 'carnal intercourse' mentioned in Sec 377?

Carnal intercourse is defined as any sexual act that is not procreative (penis entering the vagina). This includes acts that both homosexual and hetersexuals indulge in, like oral and anal sex, masturbation etc.

Does Section 377 also apply to heterosexuals?

Yes, anyone indulging in non-procreative sex can be punished under this section. So if your straight friends enjoy a little oral, they’re probably as criminal as you are 😉

What is unnatural sex? Are humans the only species that indulge in homosexual sex?

According to Sex 377, any sexual act that is non-procreative is considered unnatural. Several species have been caught doin’ it with their gay lovers – catch the action here

What was the High Court ruling about Sec 377 in 2009?

In 2009, the Delhi HC ruled that Sex 377 was unconstitutional, based on violations of sections 14 (equality before law), 15 (protection from discrimination) and 21 (protection of life and liberty) of the Indian constitution. It read down Sec 377 and excluded ‘consensual’ acts of carnal intercourse from its purview. So, as long as your same-sex partner has the hots for you too, its legal to ‘go for it’ 😉

What was the Supreme court ruling about Sec 377 in 2013?

In 2013, the Indian Supreme court reversed Delhi HC’s judgement and said that Sec 377 was rarely used (less than 200 cases in 150 years) and that the LGBT constituted only a ‘miniscule minority’. It also said that there was lack of ‘sufficient documentary evidence of the abuse of Sec 377 against LGBT’ .

Why did the SC call LGBT 'miniscule'?

According to the SC, Naz was able to show only 25 lakh individuals documented as LGBT.

Is all lost? What will the LGBT community do after this SC decision?

The LGBT community has submitted a review petition of the judgement in the SC. In addition, the Government of India has also filed a review petition against the judgement as well. The community hopes to continue the fight and is probably going to use the legislative branch to reach the goal of decriminiazation.

What's the big deal - No one has ever been arrested under Sec 377 anyway, right?

Sec 377 has been used more often to supress, dominate and blackmail LGBT individuals, than it has been used in court. The existence of this section precludes LGBT from being recognized as a ‘class of people’ that are equal in the eyes of law. It makes it difficult for LGBT to demand equal treatment at work, rights like recognition of same-sex relationships, etc.

I came out at work after the HC ruling. Now I'm worried I can be prosecuted. Is that true?

To be prosecuted under Sec 377, there needs to be documentary proof of ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’. This involves medical examinations right after the act, and sufficient proof beyond doubt that penetration occured. SImply being out at work, or declaring your attraction for the same sex is not ground for prosecution.

My friends say that I should never be seen holding hands with a man now, as the police can arrest me. Is this true?

Holding hands, kissing or being affectionate to someone of the same sex is not ground for prosecution. However, this may help the police identify you as a potential LGBT person and trouble you in other ways (like blackmail or unlawful harrassment). You can definitely NOT be arrested for this.

What precautions should I take to avoid being prosecuted under Sec 377?

Remember that guy you invited over at 2am last week? Or that orgy you traveled to for 2 hours a week back? Bad idea! -these make you especially vulnerable to tricksters and blackmailers – be cautious and careful when inviting people home, visiting sketchy parties/places, and sending too much information online.

Under what circumstances can I be prosecuted under Sec 377?

To be prosecuted under Sec 377, there needs to be documentary proof of ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’. This involves medical examinations right after the act, and sufficient proof beyond doubt that penetration occured.

I am being arrested under Sec 377. What do I do now?

This is a rare circumstance -but please contact:

I am being blackmailed by the police, that they will out me/arrest me under Sec 377. What do I do?

Stay calm – no one can arrest you under Sec 377 unless they have adequate medical proof, so in all likelihood, this is just an attempt to scare you. Use your presence of mind, do not show fear, and contact xxxx as soon as you can for more help.

I am being blackmailed by someone who is threatening to expose me under Sec 377 to the police. What do I do?

Stay calm – no one can arrest you under Sec 377 unless they have adequate medical proof, so in all likelihood, this is just an attempt to scare you. Use your presence of mind, do not show fear, and contact xxxx as soon as you can for more help.

My family says if I refuse to marry someone of their choice of the opposite gender, they can have me arrested under Sec 377. Is this true? What do I do?

Your family can definitely NOT get you arrested for saying you’re gay, having a gay partner, or refusing to marry someone of their choice! You are an adult so  Contact counselors at Humsafar Trust for more help at

I am worried I may have contracted HIV, but am scared of getting tested at a hopsital. Can the doctor report me to the police under Sec 377 if I tell him I'm gay and I've had penetrative sex?

HIV testing is free and confidential at all government hospitals and at some gay-friendly clinics, like at Humsafar Trust, and not a reportable crime. Prosecution requires documentation of penetrative sex, which no doctor or police can prove at a later time. Do not delay getting tested, it is perfectly safe and legal!