The decriminalisation of gay sex between consenting adults has led to predictable reactions. LGBTs (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders) are cock-a-hoop. Political parties are reluctant to say where they stand. Religious heads have come together to slam it. And “godmen” like Baba Ramdev have termed it unnatural.
The Times of India‘s law correspondent Manoj Mitta reports that homosexual sex and prostitution now enjoy the same legal position: neither is an offence as long as it is between mutually consenting adults and as long is it is done in private; 200 metres away from a “public place” (place of worship, educational area, hostel, hospital, etc) or a notified area.
In fact, he writes, an unintended consequence of the “reading down” of Section 377 is that it male prostitution has received a boost, since homsexual sex is no longer an “unnatural offence”. However, the Prevention of Immoral Traffic Act (PITA) imposes a higher penalty on women prostitutes for soliciting a client.
Questions: should prostitution be legalised? Will it give women sex workers a better social status by removing the stigma associated with flesh trade? Will it help fight sexually transmitted diseases? Could it become a welcome new trade like in Thailand, say? Or could it have disastrous consequences on “our culture”?