“Woke up on the right side of the bed today, but the government won’t know which side anymore because right to privacy.”
A friend of mine recently left this message on social media. In its dark comical tone, the post really sets things in perspective upon the sheer imperative value that the right to privacy brings into the lives of citizens. The end of August has been strongly marked by constitutional victories; the elevation of privacy to a guaranteed fundamental right is not the result of popular demand, but a move to protect the element of choice over the disdain of majorities. With this ruling the apex court has set things in motion to protect its integrity, by really announcing that the guarantee of constitutional rights are not inclined upon its exercise by being favorably regarded by majoritarian opinion. They are binding in nature, and hence need to be uplifted by the true vanguards of justice.
India is a nation of closets. Men here progressively numb themselves to public displays of affection and emotion under the constant fear of losing their undisputed title of ‘mard’ and masculinity. However, the level of scrutiny that people of different sexual orientations have had to deal with is immeasurable in comparison. That said, LGBTQ people now have a chance. A chance to safeguard themselves from the twitchy, glaring eyes of those who proclaim themselves as the rightful protectors of ‘culture’ and ‘honour’ (let that sink in).
The Supreme Court’s historic ruling on August 24, declaring privacy as a fundamental right not only looks at dethroning the master puppeteer from its damning works, but allows real people to flaunt their identity. This looks like the ray of optimism which could have a snowball effect – it could pave the way for more democratic decisions and could further incentivize the policy framework to go about the favorable route. A lot of deadwood colonial-era laws need to go, and the right to privacy could just be the domino effect this country needs.
The decision however shouldn’t be looked at as a tactical maneuver to woo the emerging classes; but how things could turn out in the near future, and the lingering thoughts that still circle around Section 377. But there is no apprehension whatsoever that the consensus reached by the nine judge bench will seek to drain Section 377 of its powers. With the refreshing addition of the all new Fundamental Right, what happens behind closed doors is now protected under the Constitution. It’ll now act as a self-implicating wound for those who impose themselves into the lives of others. Because now to ‘prove’ certain violations, they’ll be crossing the line which is fundamentally defended by the Constitution.
What is truly uplifting about the judgment is its literary framework: it not only attacked the reasoning of the Supreme Court’s inhumane decision of 2013, but also announced that the protection of sexual orientation lies at the core of Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
A line from the judgment reads: “A miniscule fraction of the country’s population constitutes of lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgender (as observed in the judgment of this Court) is not a sustainable basis to deny the right to privacy.” The decision is a strong statement which will resonate within the ecosystem of religious fundamentalists who misinterpret sexuality, and believe that majoritarian thinking can be imposed here.
There is little doubt around the fact that the oxygen supply to Section 377 needs to be halted. Several dialogues have been tirelessly spread out in the open which wanted the courts to recognize, that the question of gender identity is closely related to the question of sexual orientation and desire. We need to realize that in the digital age it’s not machines we need to be wary of, it’s the exoskeletal being behind who is the real puppeteer, sitting casually on a throne labelled ‘Judgment’.
Now that we have the fundamental right to practice our beliefs and express ourselves in the safety of our homes, we’ll see more people embracing their true selves and not being subjected to community meddlings and sacrifices at the altar of ‘integrity’. We are safe now with all the characteristics of privacy intact within, and maybe the price for safety doesn’t always result in the loss of privacy.