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

A moment of quiet in Mumbai between gay rights activists as they watch a live broadcast from outside the Supreme Court.

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.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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