The Jury is out – what will the Supreme Court of India decide on Section 377?

It is hard being a member of the LGBTQ community in Asia, and even more so in India. While most of the American and European countries are not only acknowledging and legalising the different shades of the LGBTQ+ spectrum, they are also doing a pretty good job in exercising it on a social and cultural level.

But the situation is quite the opposite over here in India, right? And why shouldn’t it be so, since our constitution readily rejects even the slightest possibility of homosexual acts?

Section 377

Source: The Better India

Unfortunately, India is still one of those countries which criminalize homosexuality. Thanks to some of the state governments, the situation has improved than before for the transgender community, although it is nowhere near being enough. But things are still dark for the sexuality part of the spectrum.

For anyone who is a member of the community or a true ally, the word Section 377 is a real nightmare. Although nowhere in its explanation does the law specifically mentions homosexuality, the mere suggestion of the phrase ‘intercourse against the nature’ invokes hostility towards the gays and lesbians of the country.

Over the years, there have been numerous efforts to do away with this unscrupulous law, since it not only interferes with the basic freedom of expression every citizen has right to, but also makes a criminal out a person’s choice of partner.

The recent years have seen some refreshing development in the scenario. Both in India and worldwide, 2017 has been a year of protests, uprisings and raised voices – both on social media and on the streets. Movements like ‘Me Too’ and ‘Times Up’ have brought big allies like the Hollywood by the side of the oppressed.

Me too

Source: Shutterstock

Thankfully, holding hand of the new wave of change, the marginalised LGBTQ+ community has also seen some effective changes. The youths of India of India have shown their colours in the last one month, coming down to streets and going online on social media, painting it all in bright rainbows.

Pride

Source: NBC News

As a cherry on the top, the Supreme Court of India, which has recently won hearts and trust with some positive changes in the Indian laws, will be hearing cases against Section 377 from July 10, Tuesday.

Here is a brief timeline of incidents leading up to this and everything that helped create this foundation upon which an entire community is hoping.

2001

NAZ Foundation of Delhi, one of the earliest and popular NGOs in this field, and they work closely with the LGBTQ community and HIV/AIDS and sexual health matters, filed a petition against Section 377 to Delhi High Court. This is probably the first legal step taken towards the matter.

2009

The case court, like almost every other in Indian judicial system, went on for years. Finally in 2009, the Delhi High Court ruled Section 377 to be a violation of the fundamental rights.

However, several religious groups were offended by this decision and took the matter to the Supreme Court.

2013

Much to the agony of the LGBTQ community, the then Supreme Court of India reversed the ruling, re-criminalising the sexual acts “against nature” and passed the ball very conveniently to the Parliament, saying it was not a matter for the Judiciary to decide upon.

2016

The then Chief Justice and header of the three-member bench, T. S. Thakur decided in February, 2016 that the plea of NAZ and other activists and foundations will be reviewed in a new light by a five-member constitutional bench.

2017

During April-May, a bunch of petitions were newly filed and these came from some seriously important societies of the country. Among them were hotelier Keshav Suri, the Executive Director of Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, Ritu Dalmia, a restaurateur, Bharatnatyam dancer choreographer Navtej Singh Johar and many more. Regular names of the LGBTQ activism, Ashok Rao Kavi and Arif Jaffar were also there.

36909157_1909569082677610_7339927219977846784_n

Source: Hindustan Times

“My orientation is different and that is no crime” – Navtej Singh Johar

The final nail came in form of a plea filed by Indian Institute of Technology’s alumni association, who claim that the discrimination, hatred and violence that Section 377 leaves in its wake not only harms an individual on a personal level, but it leaves an effect – an adverse one – on their professional scenario as well.

The bottom line stands that you cannot run a company, let alone a country, while you consider the life choices of an entire community as crime. Now only time can tell whether this time, our country will right the wrongs or keep standing on the wrong side of history.

One thought on “The Jury is out – what will the Supreme Court of India decide on Section 377?

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