September 6th, 2018 marked an historic moment for Indian lgbtq+ community. Supreme court’s decision to decriminalize section 377 gives acceptance to homosexual relationships and legalizes consensual intercourse between adults. The bench declared this act as ‘unconstitutional’ and was acclaimed by the entire country. The community can now enjoy the same rights to privacy and validates freedom to love regardless of their gender or orientation.
Section 377 of Indian penal code criminalized consensual sex between same genders hailing oral or anal as an unnatural offence. Modelled on the Buggery Act of 1533, it was introduced during the British raj who considered sodomy ‘against nature’. Briefly decriminalized in 2009, the section came back to force in 2013. Since then, this issue has been a subject of heavy debate in the country but isn’t supported by major politicians, with an exception of Shashi Tharoor, who introduced the bill twice in the parliament which was shot down during the early stages.
“Majoritarian views and popular views cannot dictate constitutional rights. LGBT community possesses human rights like all other sections of society. Equality is the essence of the constitution. 377 is arbitrary.”- CJI Dipak Misra
After years of protest and several petitions, a five- judge bench led by CJI Dipak Misra heard arguments for and against this pressing matter and making their decision of ruling the section out of the constitution. However, the law was not completely dismissed with other clauses as non-consensual intercourse, bestiality and sexual acts with minors still being a criminal offence. This decision holds up with the 2017 verdict of ruling Right to Privacy as a fundamental right for every Indian citizen.
Although, passing of the will not stop the discrimination against the minority groups, it is a big leap in the direction of acceptance. The vindication of right to love by the court reduces the fear of law and lessens the magnitude of the hate-crimes against them. Certain sections of our society are still ignorant and prejudiced, it is a long battle still left to fight. It is important to increase awareness in public and remove the stigma attached to ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’. Indian media and cinema plays a huge role in shaping our views, more coverage and inclusion will remove the degaratory We need to be more inclusive and create an environment of love. Maybe someday, same sex marriages won’t be a distant dream for India and no one will fear for their lives.