Homosexuality in the military is frowned upon in much of the world. Is the tide about to change in India?

New Delhi: The Supreme Court judgment decriminalising homosexuality is said to have got the military brass worried over what it exactly means for Indian soldiers.

Also, there is confusion, or a lack of consensus, among military law experts whether the judgment applies to Indian defence personnel, and if it does how it could impact the forces.

Laws governing the three arms of the Indian military bar homosexuality — although through euphemisms and not explicitly — and rule it a punishable offence.

The law

Just last weekend, Army chief General Bipin Rawat had summoned all Colonels and their spouses to Manekshaw Centre in Delhi and said “moral turpitude” was unpardonable.

The Supreme Court order brings the very definition of “moral turpitude” into question.

Section 45 the Army Act, 1950, talks about the “unbecoming conduct” of officers without detailing it. Section 46 (a) says any person guilty of any disgraceful conduct of a “cruel, indecent or unnatural kind” will, on conviction by court-martial, face up to seven years in jail.

Sections 45 and 46(a) of the Air Force Act, 1950, state the same.

The Navy Act, 1957, says personnel guilty of any “indecent act” can be jailed for up to two years.


Also read: ‘Homosexuality not mental illness’: What the 5 judges said while striking down Section 377


One provision spells out a jail term of upto two years for officers guilty of any “scandalous or fraudulent conduct or of any conduct unbecoming the character of an officer”.

Army sources said they will have to read the judgment before seeing how it impacts the three laws, but some lawyers expressed hope that the Supreme Court order will decriminalise homosexuality for the Indian military too.

Chandigarh-based lawyer Major Navdeep Singh, who specialises in service and military matters, said the landmark judgment will “humanise military law to an extent”.

“The soldiers under military law will not be tried under Section 69 of the Army Act, read with Section 377 of the IPC, as far as a consensual relationship is concerned,” he told ThePrint.

Section 69 of the Army Act pertains to ‘civil offences’.

“The term ‘unnatural’, as used in Section 46 of the act, would yield to the interpretation given by the Supreme Court today for the same term appearing in Section 377,” he added.

The order stripped homosexual relationships of their “unnatural” tag.

“However, all forms of disgraceful conduct, which is cruel or indecent in nature, will continue to be an offence under Section 46,” he said.

Why the worry

An Army officer pointed out that extramarital relationships were considered an offence within the forces, saying it needed to be seen how the Supreme Court judgment tied in with this provision.

The main concerns among the brass, if this happens, pertain to the possible impact on operational issues.


Also read: Section 377 verdict: Can we start calling the CJI the CEO of India?


Soldiers are posted away from families to far-flung places for months on end. They have their ‘buddy’ for emotional companionship, but absolutely no avenue for sexual release during these postings.

An Army lawyer said the brass had nothing to worry about, since the judgment was unlikely to decriminalise gay sex in the military.

Gay sex in the defence forces will continue to remain an offence under Section 46 (b) of the Army Act. The Section pertains to any person who “malingers, or feigns, or produces disease or infirmity in himself, or intentionally delays his cure or aggravates his disease or infirmity”.

“The accused may also be tried under Section 63 (‘violation of good order and discipline’), but not under Section 69 of the Act,” the lawyer added.

The lawyer also cited Article 33 of the Constitution, which gives Parliament the power to decide which rights apply to the military. Parliament will have to pass a specific amendment or ordinance for the decriminalisation of homosexuality to apply to the military, the lawyer added.

Homosexuality in the military is still frowned upon in much of the world. The US and Britain have led the way in changing the status quo by welcoming gay personnel in their forces.

A study conducted by the thinktank Hague Centre for Strategic Studies on more than 100 armed forces found India’s to be among the least friendly to gays.

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51 COMMENTS

  1. Have you even spoken to indian Army formally and officially before penning this article. The Supreme Court has given the decision yesterday and today you feel that army is worried? Shooting sh#t with confidence!

  2. True armed forces aren’t worried they don’t interfere in personal matters only where it reflects on their duties n conduct

  3. Judiciary should have taken the cultural and religious background of our nation’s thousands of years manuscript into consideration.what is unnatural and against the healthy practices the judiciary has failed to consider and to please a few fumbled blatantly

    • Which religion? Hinduism does not say anything against homexuals Sculptures of sex between gay men are placed in Hindu temples. Swamy Ayyappa was born as per the myth, out of sex between Vishnu and Shiv.

  4. Dear Editor,it is a shameful &digusting riling from the Supreme court of India to legalise homosexuality.It os a bloch on moral tirpitude and all family loving cotizens will resent this decision.We are a nation with strong moral and spiritual values.Supreme court cannot fictate its foul decision.

  5. Don’t worry about a disciplined force like our armed forces . Military training will have an impact on their behavioural pattern

  6. The writer seems to be mentally unstable trying to achieve cheap popularity. The article is bunch of bullshit from top to bottom. He needs to takedown this article immediately and issue apologies to army unconditionally for maligning the most pious institution of country.
    Jai Hind
    Jai Army

  7. Why do you think Indian soldiers are gay? Was there any past study? You should be more worried about rape by soldiers across the world for ages.

    • How come you assume that the article says Indian soliers are gay? What I got to understand is that the article is solely about the homosexual persons in army.

  8. Hi dear as the organised groups of people (female or, and male) there is many situations sec377 will be defence for misdeed and laws and duties will be used, because the mechanism to detect the ill-effects are very very slow and old aged now We should. Under stand motive not line’s of act or law, how the learned experience elite missed it, swachh samarpit simplified version of country to be made regards and sorry if hurt,s any regards apsinha

    • Those men and women can be gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans persons. There are now ways to identify one’s sexual orientation unless he opens it up.

  9. It’s very rare that you find homosexuality talks or topics being discussed in an prestigious organization like Indian Army. As all people with any gender caste or creed who belongs to this nation are same for them. The soldiers and the officers who are working in organization have a soul reason to work beyond their call of duty that is to achieve a sense of pride and honour in the duty they do religious. The way you will not seek that you publish a wrong article in yr publications which would demean the value of yr office and the integrity of yr writting capacity it’s the same way no soldier in a healthy conscience will do any act to tarnish the name of his organization. In your case you face simple sober public agitation for your fancy articles but in case of a soldier the punishable acts you mention in your article becomes reality.
    For a soldier it’s better to die rather sacrifice his integrity. I request you , please don’t sacrifice your own integrity by publishing such articles about a armed force which has sworn to protect you, only irrespective of what you say and do.

  10. Mera nivedan hai journalist se ki kripa kar ke positive reporting karen. Indian army ke roots bohot hi culturally rich hai aur maximum jawans apne values ke pakke hote hain. Dekhiye reporter ji chahe hamare jawan yeh harkat kare chahe nahin jo ki hum sab indians jante hain aisa kuch nahi hoga indian army me lekin aap aisa view share karenge jo ki negative impact dalega un young youths par jo army join karna chahte hain.

  11. Indian army world ki d8sciplined army me se hai. Hamare jawans dushmano ko bhi qaid karte hain to izzat se rakhte hain. Mere jaise sab indians ko bhi yahi ummed hai ki hamare jawans kabhi hamara sir nahi jhugne denge. Be positive do positive reporting. Hamare jawan sir kata sakte hain desh ke liye. Aur reporter ji aap ka yeh sochna ki sirf physical needs ke liye gay ho jayenge, aisa kabhi nahi hoga. Mera aur pure desh ka yahi manna hai aur hoga.

  12. Bharat mata ki jai indian army zindabad. Indian army par bura nazar rakhne walon ka muh kala. Salute to each and every jawans of indian army.

  13. Stop spreading bullshit news, stop posting/ publishing and specially connecting on every thing happening in the country with the Indian Armed Forces. You should be ashamed as a media that our armed forces personnel are doing a job which none of you journalists and so called reporters would have even thought of, so shut up and publish positive news rather than creating uncalled controversy. Stop involving armed forces for stupid reasons and start concentrating on positive journalism.

  14. Dear Editor, most obnoxious report.
    Does that mean legalisation in the nation, means everybody would start fraternizing with same sex. Are you going to do the same,

    Please wake up, Disgrace on the paper

  15. The homosexuality may have been decriminalized by the court but army act can still keep it as a criminal offence in the same way as any relationship outside of marriage is an offence in the army act but it is not so in civil. So you don’t worry about army as army can very well take care of its matters by itself and army is not worried over such a frivolous issue as suggested by you. There are many more grave issues for the army to be worried about such as national security and terrorism.

  16. To my mind… Any lawyer who believes that Gay sex can be tried under Sec 46(b) and/or under Sec 63 of the Army Act, has absolutely and completely misinterpreted these Sections. That said, homosexuality is a sexual preference…an individual choice….which does not inhibit a homosexual person from making man woman love stories into super hit films…just as it did not inhibit the (predominently homosexual) Spartans from lopping off heads of Xerxes’s Army. Its time we respect, commend and applaud people for their thoughts and their work rather than needlessly (and foolishly) worrying about their sexual preferences coming in the way of them discharging their duties to the Motherland.

  17. The choice of title, totally irrelevant to content of article gives away the insinuating tendencies of the writer. No wonder you guys are called presstitutes. But then nothing better can be expected of The Print and their ilk.

  18. Print media worried about homosexuality in army. But I am worried about homosexuality and lesbianism in print media which will become a threat to nation.

  19. This article is very stupid. The Defense forces already have a law on this. There are so many things legal outside the army. But regulations say 25 years is marriage able age. Similarly, more than 1-wife is not allowed. For a Indian woman adultery is not a punishable act, whereas for a woman in army it is. So Mr Author, stop worrying and concentrate on something worthwhile.

  20. Worst decision by our judiciary…….Gays and lesbians are result of their abnormality. God has blessed both man and woman so that they may bear child and remain happy and give birth their new offspring…. God did not deliver those tradition of gay sex or lesbian sex… I think judiciary should stop imitating western system on it.

  21. Get a real story…. Nonsense News channel….

    I doubt your credentials being Indian….
    As you are full of anti India sentiments…

  22. The Indian ArmForces Is An Institution governed By By Laws , Conduct Guidelines , Section Rules , and
    Above All – Moral Code Of Conduct.

    Keep public Life , it’s Judicial judgements OUT of these Institutions

  23. This is the heights such as holes can write whatever is there in gutter of their head. Communists can think only in that way. I can give you good pick for your this foolish article. BBC

  24. धारा 377___

    आप को इंडियन आर्मी के बारे में चिंता करने की आवश्यकता नहीं है
    उसकी चिंता करने वाले आर्मी के उच्चाधिकारी है जो ये पदाधिकार संभाले हुए हैं
    आप पर लानत है अपने देश के सुरक्षा जवानों। के बारे में ऐसा सोचने पर ऐसा लिखने पर
    जय जवान जय किसान
    भारत माता की जय

  25. Sure for shot..this article must be written by a GANDU pls read again GANDU ..:) who might have been fucked by an armymen or interested in doing so…This article only shows the writer Know angregi..but have very little common sense ..grow up man

  26. You are a bulshit journalist otherwise you would have not written this bakwas article.you are paid to write nonsense anything which degrade our own country.
    Hell with such journalist and such journalism.
    Go to hell.
    L

  27. The Indian army has the same concerns as the armies of USA, Germany, UK, France, Italy, Russia, China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and many others. Nothing more, nothing less. What’s your point? Or do you want us to be more like pakistan and saudi arabia?

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