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India’s Most Powerful Voices On Why The SC Must Reconsider Its Decision On Section 377

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By YKA Staff

On December 11, 2013 the Supreme Court of India dealt a heavy blow to equal rights in India, by reversing a 2009 Delhi High Court judgement that had read down Section 377 of the IPC. Section 377, an archaic, discriminatory law criminalises homosexuality in India. On February 2, 2016, the Supreme Court is hearing a curative petition about its own judgement. This is the last legal recourse to reverse the judgement dealt in this particular case.

Youth Ki Awaaz reached out to various prominent individuals, asking them why it’s important that the SC reconsider its decision. Here are their responses. Make sure that these voices reach thousands across the country! In the fight for equal rights, this is the first step we can all take together.

vishal dadlani1. Vishal Dadlani, Musician

“In a logical and fair world, what business does a government/law have in the bedrooms of consensual adults? Why is it anyone’s business, except for that of those involved? It’s time to shed the hypocritical prudery of this Victorian law. All love is equal, and all love is good. The only thing the law should ensure, is that everyone has equal rights under it, and that mutual-consent is protected. The sexual preference of citizens shouldn’t be something that the government, the police or the prudes get to decide! The law should protect freedom of choice, rather than oppress free citizens. I hope Sec 377 is scrapped, for good!”

onir2. Onir, Filmmaker

“The Supreme Court should uphold the fundamentals of the Constitution of the country and the essence of democracy. Equality, freedom, constitutional rights and dignity to its citizens irrespective of their gender, caste, colour, religion, class and sexuality.

We will never become a true democracy till we guarantee this to every citizen. IPC 377 violates that very principle.”

Pramada-Menon3. Pramada Menon, Queer, Feminist activist

“The decision has to be reconsidered because we are talking about people and people’s lives. Rights have been enshrined in the Constitution and yet an entire set of people are deemed criminals on the basis of whom they love, desire, wish to share their life with. Every individual has the right to live a life free of discrimination and using the number game to deny rights is wrong. Constitutional morality has to win over public morality!”

svati-chakravarty-bhatkal4. Svati Chakravarty, Co-Director – ‘Satyamev Jayate’

“We live in a democratic nation governed by principles of individual freedoms enshrined in a Constitution. Sexual orientation is integral to an individual’s identity and being – trampling upon it is a denial of identity at a very fundamental level. It’s essential that the Supreme Court reconsider its decision and uphold our democratic ideal.”

apar_gupta5. Apar Gupta, Advocate

“The Supreme Court is hearing the curative petition on the Koushal Judgement which upheld the constitutionality of Section 377 of the IPC. A curative petition is a limited remedy, however, it is important for the court to reconsider the Koushal Judgement due to a subsequent judgement by which it recognised the rights of transgenders. There seems to be an inherent contradiction in the approach of the court which presents an opportunity for it to revisit and recast Section 377.”

Kavita Krishnan6. Kavita Krishnan, Secretary, All India Progressive Women’s Association

“I think the SC must review its earlier verdict on 377, for its own sake. Its earlier verdict was a grievous error of judgement, suggesting as it does that the rights of a ‘minuscule minority’ don’t matter in India and that constitutional rights can be left to the mercies of majoritarian sentiment and Parliament, rather than being safeguarded by the courts. Rather, the SC should uphold the spirit of the Delhi HC verdict on 377 that underlined the difference between constitutional morality and dominant notions of morality.”

Nivedita_Menon7. Nivedita Menon, Feminist, Scholar, Activist

“The SC must reconsider its decision because the criminalisation of consensual sex between adults runs counter to the constitutionally protected rights of equality and freedom for all. Even if this affects only a ‘minuscule minority’, it is the purpose of the Constitution in a democracy to protect minorities. But in fact, we do not know how many people are actually affected because as long as Section 377 exists on the statute books in its current form, it ensures the silencing and invisibility of all who consider themselves to be non-heterosexual.”

PREETHI-HERMAN8. Preethi Herman, Country Lead, Change.org.

“Shashi Tharoor’s private member bill to decriminalise homosexuality might have been shot down in the Parliament without any discussion. But, the voice of people challenging Section 377 is growing strong as is evident in Shashi Tharoor’s Change.org petition that has nearly 40,000 signatures already. Section 377 not just violates constitutional rights, it is way too intrusive, encourages social prejudice and has strong public opposition – all glaring reasons for the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision.”

rajeev chandrasekhar9. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Independent MP, Rajya Sabha

“The issue of Section 377 is less to do with the Supreme Court and more to do with Parliament. It’s up to political parties now to get together and create consensus around new legislation that’s keeping with our times.”

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  1. Sridhar Rangayan

    Very well said! We need more voices in the larger mainstream to support reading down of the draconian law Sec 377 which denies basic dignity to a large number of LGBT individuals. It has also led to gross human rights violations due to the misuse of the law. Check out the effect of Sec 377 on LGBT individuals in our film BREAKING FREE – trailer : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESpLy_BEBO4

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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