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Ian McKellen Calls Out India’s Homophobic Laws

ian mckellen

His visit came during the British Film Institute's "Shakespeare on Film" global tour.

British actor, Sir Ian McKellen recently visited India for the first time during the British Film Institute’s "Shakespeare on Film" global tour, marking 400 years since the playwright’s death.

During his visit, he expressed disagreement with Section 377, a law that makes homosexuality illegal in India. He told Scroll:

“You have a repressive law in place for which I should apologize, because it’s not an Indian law, it’s a British law that we left behind. You should have got rid of it, and you tried to, and it’s come back, but it will go again, I’m sure."

Although consensual homosexual intercourse was decriminalized in 2009 by the Delhi High Court, the verdict was reversed in 2013 by the Supreme Court, giving control to India’s Parliament. In December 2015, the lower house of Parliament voted against decriminalization. 

Despite the government's lack of support, India's LGBT community has actually thrived in recent years as evidenced by events like the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Festival, the nation's premiere gay/lesbian/trans film festival. This year's line-up featured 182 titles including Carol. McKellen, who attended during his visit, released a statement about the festival:

“Increasingly, in India too, the film industry has matured, treating gay people with the same seriousness as straight characters. I look forward at Kashish to discovering more about Bollywood’s filmmakers who reject fantasy for the truth about gay people.”

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