India gay sex ban reinstated

An Indian gay-rights activist gestures behind a flag during a protest against the Supreme Court ruling reinstating a ban on gay sex. (Manjunath Kiran, AFP/Getty Images / December 11, 2013)

Gay sex is now illegal -- again -- in the second-most populous nation in the world.

India's Supreme Court restored a 150-year-old law banning sodomy Wednesday, declaring that a lower court that struck it down in 2009 lacked the power to do so.

Put another way: After a four-year reprise, a 19th-century British law is what governs gay sex in India.

The statute, introduced by Britain when they were colonizing India and reading Charles Dickens, outlaws "carnal intercourse against the order of nature."  Other Britain-ruled territories had similar laws on the books, and though some have been repealed, many are still in effect.

LGBT rights in India took a major step forward when the Delhi High Court ruled in 2009 that the law violated India's constitution. With gay sex no longer a punishable offense, members of the LGBT community felt more comfortable stepping out into the open.

But the Indian Supreme Court declared that 2009 decision valid, saying only the country's Parliament has the power to reverse a colonial-era law regulating a rapidly modernizing nation. And given India's well-documented social conservatism, experts don't expect that to happen any time soon.

Done Googling whether sodomy is featured in the Kama Sutra? Let's move on:
  • The judicial systems of former British colonies just aren't showing a lot of love to the gays this week. Australia's top court just upended a local law that allowed same-sex marriages in the Australian Capital Territory. The Aussies have a federal law on the book that defines marriage between a man and a woman, which means any local laws to the contrary are unconstitutional. So, much as in India, same-sex marriage is in the hands of Parliament. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oy, Oy, Oy indeed.

  • In response to the political snafu surrounding the 2014 Winter Olympics, the International Olympic Committee announced plans for the Russian government to create protest zones in Sochi. This news comes almost four months after Russian President Vladimir Putin banned all "rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets" in Sochi -- which many viewed as an attempt to quell potential uproar over the country's "gay propaganda" law. Does this clear anything up? No? Didn't think so.

  • By the way, here's Elton John's poignant take on why LGBT celebs and their famous allies need to go Russia: "I believe the Russian people are decent and will be persuaded -- but they need to hear us, and see we are human. They can't do that from a distance of two thousand miles."

  • While the IOC has been fairly quiet on the issue of anti-gay attitudes in sports, the United Nations just held a public discussion on the issue that was moderated by Maryland-born MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts. Also, Melissa Etheridge was reportedly there. So do with that what you will.

  • The Department of Health and Human Services is set to take another look at whether Medicare should be permitted to cover gender reassignment surgery, according to The Washington Blade.

  • In the six-ish weeks since New Jersey began to allow same-sex marriage, more than 700 same-sex couples have tied the knot.

  • GQ Germany's trying to combat anti-gay bias by tasking straight German celebrities to lock lips on the magazine's glossy pages, Out magazine reports. Your move, GQ America. (And maybe give Jon Hamm and Idris Elba a call.)

Any other LGBT news out there that's got your attention this week?