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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sodomy Laws Are Rooted in British Colonialism By Nergui Manalsuren

Although 66 countries signed a statement at the United Nations on Dec. 19 affirming that human rights protections extend to sexual orientation and gender identity, activists note that dozens of nations still criminalize homosexuality and seven impose the death penalty.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch says that the oppressive legacy of British colonialism is at the heart of many of these laws that penalize consensual sexual activity among adults of the same sex.

According to a report titled "This Alien Legacy", launched last week, more than half of the world's remaining "sodomy laws" derive from a single law on homosexual conduct that British colonial rulers imposed on India in 1860.

The law, known as Section 377 under the Indian penal code, was designed to set standards of behavior, both to "reform" the colonized and to protect the colonizers against "moral lapses".

It was the first colonial "sodomy law" integrated into a penal code, and it became a model for countries across Asia, the Pacific Islands and Africa -- almost everywhere the British imperial flag flew


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