Thursday, September 6 2018, is the new day with hopes steering high and the adrenaline rushing in full fervor for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies who had been fighting persistently in order to decriminalize Section 377 of Indian Penal Code.
The day has been seized and made into a historic moment for those whose very existence, identity, choices were considered a criminal act and posed a question on their survival and freedom in India.
The famous and bold slogan of any Queer Pride Parade in India : ‘कौन सा कानून हैं सबसे बत्तर? तीन सौ सतहत्तर, तीन सौ सतहत्तर’, is certainly a thing of the past. Indeed, it has been made possible because of the turning point that was seen in this case to quash ‘377’, when the honorable Supreme Court decided to reopen the case.
The Supreme Court took petitions to reconsider the criminalizing of ‘unnatural sex’ termed in Section 377 to ban homosexuality, anal and oral sexual intercourse among consenting adults, from eminent personalities such as Navtej Singh Johar, Ritu Dalmia, Keshav Suri, Sunil Mehra, Aman Nath, among others.
It is not the first time Section 377 was in the news. In 2009, Delhi High Court said that the section violated Articles 14,15 and 21 of the Constitution. But after a long contemplation upon it the Supreme Court got involved in the judgement and reversed the verdict in 2013.
The five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra including Justices Fali Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra unanimously gave the verdict that decriminalized consensual sex between two consenting adults of the same sex today, after five long years of making it illegal again.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, who’s long been a supporter of gay rights, said his stand is now vindicated.
The moment of ecstasy fueled up with emotional sentiments, when a series of notifications buzzed on my phone on Thursday – ‘CJI Dipak Misra, reads the first judgement’, ‘Prejudice and social stigma still affect a certain section of society’, ‘Constitutional morality can’t be equated with popular sentiments, ‘LGBT community possesses the same fundamental rights as others do’, ‘Section 377 can’t punish gay sex between consenting adults’.
The verdict by 5-0 has made the judgement all the way more reassuring and convincing. The judges highlighted a number of strong arguments backing up their verdict, some of them were:
“Social morality cannot violate the rights of even one single individual,” said CJI Misra and Justice Khanwilkar.
“Society owes an apology to the LGBTQ community”, said Justice Malhotra.
This judgement was long awaited by the LGBTQ Community and has been welcomed across the nation, as now they look forward to lead a life of freedom and dignity. Respect for individual choice is the very essence of liberty under law thus criminalizing carnal intercourse under Section 377 is very irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary.
The judgement is a historic event when freedom and equality is concerned. The India that we are going to live in from now on is going to be a lot more inclusive and colourful. Cheers to a more equal and inclusive nation than we had yesterday without the threat of being punished on the basis of an individual’s identity and whom they choose to love.
Justice DY Chandrachud, said “It is difficult to right the wrongs of history. But we can certainly set the course for the future. That we can do by saying, as I propose to say in this case, that lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders have a constitutional right to equal citizenship in all its manifestations” , he wrote, supporting partial striking down of Section 377.
This Judgement has shifted the entire narrative of identity to a brighter side. Our responsibilities as citizens of the country has widened as we ought to thrive to act and bring this inclusiveness in our actions and make a more freer India that we got today into a reality.