Walk the Historic Avenue: Section 377, 3 years later

Section 377

Today marks the 3rd anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in the Navtej Johar case that private sexual acts between consenting adults are not covered by Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). It has also been 20 years since the Naz Foundation questioned the constitutional validity of Section 377, which we won in 2009. The long ride was a roller coaster ride.Gay men who joined our legal collective in 1997 after a huge success in an HIV case.

The pain of their stories of blackmail by the police, their casual partners, their parents, etc. forced them to find an investigative solution. This investigation led us to identify Article 377 as the source of the evil. The constitutionality of § 377 is questionable.The next step was to receive and edit the draft petition and then try to find an author. But no gay except Ashok Row Kavi was willing to come forward as a supplicant because of the extreme stigma.

However, the petition had to be filed in Delhi as AIDS BhedBhev Virodhi Andolan (ABVA) had already petitioned there and it would have gone to the Bombay Supreme Court if the government had referred both to the Supreme Court which could be our fate. long to be rejected and sealed. Anjali Gopalan of the Naz Foundation got in touch.Meanwhile, Bharosa Trust activists were arrested in Lucknow in 2001 for reaching out to the gay community and raising awareness about safe sex.

The LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex) community is gripped by fear. We were able to respond to this in Mumbai with an exhibition in the Flora Fountain, the raison d'être of the LGBTQI community. We were encouraged by the overwhelming support we received from ordinary people. The  petition was filed in the Delhi High Court in 2001 on the basis of ABVA's pending petition. As we know, he was already rejected. Unfortunately, we received a lot of reviews from the community because they didn't review them before submitting them.We have corrected the course and have now started regular consultations.

The community was fully involved in the petition decisions as they navigated the maze of courts.The media also got involved. In television debates, mothers emphasized that their sons or daughters were gay or lesbian, that they were perfectly normal and loved, all with silent dignity. They also explained how unfair Section 377 was to impose strict prison sentences only for activities that were completely normal to them. In a debate with me about the Karan Thapar program,

Ravi Shankar Prasad, until recently Minister of Justice of the Union, claimed that Article 377 is “part of our culture” and “will never go away”. History has rightly proved him wrong.In such debates, the book Same-Sex Love in India: Readings from Literature and History by Saleem Kidwai and Ruth Vanita has played a pivotal role in showing how India had a liberal culture on sexuality regardless of religion before the British ushered in us. didn't give up their towering Victorian values. 

The first failure, the rejection of the Naz petition in 2004 and the subsequent petition for review by the Delhi High Court on technical grounds, was a major disappointment; but shortly before that, the Supreme Court overturned the dismissal and the case was referred back to the Delhi Supreme Court for a new hearing on the grounds.The Naz petition received a huge boost when Voices for Equality joined them. It was also nice when the National AIDS Organization made an affidavit of our support.

This contradicted the position of the Indian government. But we also saw the sad spectacle of the additional attorney general trying to defend Section 377.When the Delhi High Court ruled in 2009, there was euphoria. It was a second Independence Day for those still stuck in British Victorian morality. Those chains were now broken.But then Suresh Kumar Koushal and others turned to the Supreme Court. We had to defend the decision of the Delhi High Court. It was also very nice to go.

There was an extremely humorous discussion with Judge Mukhopadhyaya and myself as to whether a mother putting her breast in the mouth of her breastfed child is equivalent to word of mouth under Section 377. n It was not an easy task when the Supreme Court ruled that Punsch did it. GS Singhvi's tenure on December 11, 2013 overturned the Delhi Supreme Court verdict in Naz and once again criminalized the LGBTQI community.I have written a number of articles criticizing the verdict and trying to raise community morale by advising that the verdict will be quashed if justice is on our side. But for some, the blow was too big. In the face of despair, some have given up the fight.At the time, there was still a long way to go to reclaim the rights of LGBTQI communities.

We have submitted review requests that were rejected and then requests for reinstatement. We have also submitted written applications. You were recorded and the rest is history.Although it was a long and arduous road, he made sure that a constitutional bank would win. More specifically, with the mobilization of communities, victory is now firmly anchored in our society, especially among young people who will see another world.There is a lot to do. Same-sex marriage, changes in rape laws, inheritance and anti-discrimination laws in the private sector. It will come. Because justice is on our side.

Sources:- Hindustan times 

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