What’s next for LGBT community after Supreme Court decriminalises gay sex

Frederick Owens
September 9, 2018

The court heard petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Section 377 - a colonial-era law under which a same-s3x relationship is an "unnatural offence" punishable by a 10-year jail term.

A participant stands behind a rainbow flag during a gay pride parade promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, in Chennai, India June 24, 2018.

"Once the criminality (under section 377) goes, then everything will go (all the bars, social stigma and others)", said the bench headed by CJI Deepak Misra, which also comprised Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.

The primary objective of having a constitutional society is to transform the society progressively; Constitutional provisions should not be interpreted in the literal sense.

The Bench described sexual orientation as a matter of an individual's personal life and dignity, liberty, and expression, stating that it was "biological" or "natural" and that any discrimination on this ground will be violative of that person's fundamental rights.

Sukhdeep Singh, a gay rights activist and editor of Gaylaxy Magazine, said the community still had a lot of distance to go "to be legally with your partner".

Other legal issues like, property rights, being disallowed from adopting and using surrogacy as a means to have a child, are all issues that will continue to exist even without Section 377.

Privacy of human beings constitutes the cardinal rule of our constitution.

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CJI Misra observed, "No one can escape from their individuality and the sustenance of identity is the pyramid of life".

A five-judge panel in India's Supreme Court was unanimous in its decision to end the law commonly known as "Section 377", that prohibits "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal" -which is widely interpreted to refer to gay sex.

However, in August a year ago, the court had indicated its stand on the subject through its landmark judgment on the right to privacy. Supreme Court said that right to love anyone was an individual choice.

As the nation awaits the verdict by the Supreme Court, one of the petitioners in the case Akhilesh Godi said, "The mood is extremely optimistic, the judges have been extremely empathetic".

Anwesh Pokkuluri, another petitioner, said, "Based on how the proceedings have gone, we do not see how they can uphold (the ban)".

"We will rise together". However, India's struggle against this archaic law dates back to at least a couple of decades when activists and NGOs came together to fight the law that criminalises homosexuality. We will be together. The law provided room for abuse against the LGBTQ community, with it being used as a tool to harass and silence them, especially to keep them from reporting sexual crimes for fear of being charged under the section. We haven't won yet, but this is a victory, and only the first of many that the future holds. We will win each one of them.

The court has also directed the government to ensure proper broadcast of judgement.

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