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India Legalizes Gay Sex in Historic Ruling

One justice said the LGBTQ community and their families are owed an apology for the years of discrimination.

India's Supreme Court has legalized gay sex, striking down a ban that had stood for over 150 years. The colonial-era law, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, had stood for over 150 years, and Thursday's ruling comes after an 18 year legal battle.

"The law must be interpreted as per the requirement of changing times," said the court in its ruling, The Times of India reports.

INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images

TOPSHOT - A member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community celebrates the Supreme Court decision to strike down a colonial-era ban on gay sex, in Mumbai on September 6, 2018. - India's Supreme Court on September 6 struck down the ban that has been at the centre of years of legal battles. "The law had become a weapon for harassment for the LGBT community," Chief Justice Dipak Misra said as he announced the landmark verdict. (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE / AFP) (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)

"Consensual sex between adults in a private space, which is not harmful to women or children, cannot be denied, as it is a matter of individual choice."

"Members of LGBT community members and their family members are owed an apology from society for being denied equal rights over the years," said Justice Indu Malhotra.

A ruling last year that individuals have a right to privacy, and that sex is private, helped form the basis of the legal argument in favor of repealing the gay sex ban.

Members of the LGBTQ community gathered outside of the court and erupted in cheers, with many shedding tears, as the news of the ruling hit.

DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images

Indian members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community celebrate the Supreme Court decision to strike down a colonial-era ban on gay sex, in Kolkata on September 6, 2018. - India's Supreme Court on September 6 struck down the ban that has been at the centre of years of legal battles. "The law had become a weapon for harassment for the LGBT community," Chief Justice Dipak Misra said as he announced the landmark verdict. (Photo by Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP) (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

"I can't even explain how I am feeling right now. The long battle has been won. Finally we have been recognized by this country," said Bismaya Kumar Raula, CNN reports.

"There was not enough media or society support earlier but we have it now. People will not be seen as criminals anymore," said campaigner Rituparna Borah.

The Delhi high court ruled in 2009 against the ban, but the Supreme Court had overruled that decision in 2013.

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