The apex court upheld the constitutional validity of Section 377 of Indian Penal Code that makes anal sex a punishable offence.
LGBT activists, whose sexual relationships had been legalised by the Delhi HC, broke down inside the court room.
Parliament is authorised to remove Section 377, but as long as this provision is there, the court can not legalise this kind of sexual relationship, the SC bench observed.
“It is for the legislature to look into desirability of deleting section 377 of the IPC,” the apex court said.
A bench of Justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya had reserved judgment on March 27 last year on a bunch of petitions, many arguing in support and some against the HC verdict, after hearing arguments on a day-to-day basis for over a month.
The judgment, coming after nearly a year and nine months of remaining reserved, is the last one to be pronounced by Justice Singhvi, who retires on Wednesday (11-12-13).
While pleading for decriminalisation of gay sex, the Centre had subsequently told the court that the anti-gay law in the country had resulted from British colonialism and the Indian society was much more tolerant towards homosexuality.
The Delhi high court had on July 2, in 2009 decriminalised gay sex as provided in Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and had ruled that sex between two consenting adults in private would not be an offence.
Section 377 (unnatural offences) of the IPC makes gay sex a criminal offence entailing punishment up to life term.
Those in favour of the Delhi HC verdict and those opposed to it are divided on religious considerations. While liberal organizations, including NGOs advocating LGBT rights, are supporting the HC decision, those opposed to it are mainly from religious groups belonging to Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities.
Those who challenged the Delhi HC verdict, which came on a petition filed by NGO ‘Naz Foundation’, included BJP leader B P Singhal, All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Utkal Christian Council and Apostolic Churches Alliance.
The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Tamil Nadu Muslim Munn Kazhagam, astrologer Suresh Kumar Kaushal and yoga guru Ramdev have also opposed the verdict.