Gay rights activists shocked over verdict

Notwithstanding the adverse Supreme Court judgment, gay rights activists have refused to return to their closet and decided to fight back, though lawyers say the road ahead is thorny.

“I am shocked and saddened by this judgment. I would have to live in a country that wants me to go back to the closet. But I am not going back to the closet,” said Shaleen Rakesh, a Delhi-based gay rights activist from HIV-Aids Alliance.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned a 2009 Delhi High Court judgment that decriminalised Section 377 in the Indian Penal Code allowing adult consensual same sex conduct. Following the high court judgment, a large number of people from the queer community came out in the open to declare their sexual identity.

“The SC verdict, on the other hand, is an earth-shattering one. It’s a black day for us. It put us back by 100 years,” said Anjali Gopalan from Naz Foundation, which had approached Delhi High Court seeking to remove the criminality associated with same sex behaviour.

The Delhi High Court held Section 377 to be violative of Article 21 (right to privacy, dignity and health), Article 14 (equality before law) and Article 15 (no discrimination on the basis of sex) of the Constitution, insofar as it criminalised consensual sexual acts of adults in private.

Subsequently, 15 Special Leave Petitions (SLPs) were filed in the Supreme Court appealing against the high court decision. Significantly, the Central government did not appeal the high court decision and submitted before the Supreme Court that it had “no legal error”.

“We will file a review petition, though in 99 per cent cases review petitions are thrown out. Then we will go for a curative petition. A constitutional court is expected to have a broad, modern outlook,” said SC lawyer Anand Grover, who represented non-governmental organisations like Naz Foundation and Voice Against 377 in the court.

“The judgment is wrong and there is ground for challenge. Why did the court take up the 2G issue instead of leaving it to the Parliament as it was also a policy matter? The community is very apprehensive if they have to go to jail for a private act,” he said.

Comments (+)