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PHOTOS: Indians Laugh, Cry And Celebrate After Gay Sex is Decriminalized

Members of the LGBTQ community in Bangalore cheer after the judicial decision declaring they cannot be jailed for gay sex is announced. Women in Mumbai celebrate while a gay couple nearby hold each other close.
Members of the LGBTQ community in Bangalore cheer after the judicial decision declaring they cannot be jailed for gay sex is announced. Women in Mumbai celebrate while a gay couple nearby hold each other close.

An Indian law that was used as a tool by police to harass and blackmail LGBTQ people was overturned by the country's highest court on Thursday.

The law, Section 377 of the Indian penal code and in effect since the country's British colonial era, outlawed any sex "against the order of nature." Breaking the law was punishable by jail time.

Dozens of plaintiffs, from Bollywood stars to business owners, testified before the Indian Supreme Court after LGBTQ people living in fear of persecution and police harassment brought the case before the court.

"No one can escape from their individuality," Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, reading from the court's judgment.

"It felt validating, exciting, emotional — I cried," said one of the plaintiffs, Keshav Suri. "And more importantly, I felt an acceptance of my existence."

Thursday's decision came after decades of activism. Nearly five years ago, the same court had ruled that gay sex was illegal. LGBTQ people and their supporters and loved ones throughout India celebrated late into the night — then early into the morning. Some laughed. Others wept. Here are photos from some of those celebrations.

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A man in Mumbai shouts with joy after learning of the descision. A lesbian couple in Kolkata embrace. Amid confetti, a Mumbai family settles into a hug.
/ Clockwise from top: Indranil Mukherjee, Getty; Dibyangshu Sarkar, Getty; Rafiq Maqbool, AP
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A man in Mumbai shouts with joy after learning of the descision. A lesbian couple in Kolkata embrace. Amid confetti, a Mumbai family settles into a hug.

Celebrators weep in in Chennai. "The law had become a weapon for harassment for the LGBT community," Chief Justice Dipak Misra said as he announced the landmark verdict.
Arun Sankar / AFP/Getty Images
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AFP/Getty Images
Celebrators weep in in Chennai. "The law had become a weapon for harassment for the LGBT community," Chief Justice Dipak Misra said as he announced the landmark verdict.

As celebrations in New Delhi continued into the early Friday morning hours, contestants in the upcoming Miss Trans Queen India 2018 competition pose in a gay club.
Noemi Cassanelli / AFP/Getty Images
/
AFP/Getty Images
As celebrations in New Delhi continued into the early Friday morning hours, contestants in the upcoming Miss Trans Queen India 2018 competition pose in a gay club.

Members of the LGBTQ community revel into the early morning hours in New Delhi. India has seen a drop in opposition to same-sex relations in recent years, but it's unclear if a majority of Indians support the court's decision to decriminalize gay sex.
Noemi Cassanelli / AFP/Getty Images
/
AFP/Getty Images
Members of the LGBTQ community revel into the early morning hours in New Delhi. India has seen a drop in opposition to same-sex relations in recent years, but it's unclear if a majority of Indians support the court's decision to decriminalize gay sex.

Emily Sullivan