Gay community feels positive now

Now, I feel less of a criminal. I feel happy that there is some hope now,” said Anu, 27, a gay man. Anu’s family is not aware of his sexual orientation yet. But he believes he will be able to make choices “openly” in future.  

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court referred the petition against section 377 of the Indian Penal Code — which criminalises homosexuality — to a five-judge Bench.

The community of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgenders (LGBT) saw it as a positive development. In 2013, the Supreme Court had set aside the Delhi High Court judgment which decriminalised homosexuality in 2009.

“The referral of the petition to a five-judge Bench means legal recourse is now open,” said Anjali Gopalan of Naz Foundation.

“The 2013 judgment was a huge setback and we felt dejected. But today the mood is positive. The referral of the petition does not mean it is the end of the struggle for us. There is now something to look forward to,” she added.

Naz Foundation, which works for the LGBT community, is one of the petitioners in the case.
The first reaction of gay rights activists and lawyers was that of relief. This was followed by jubilation.

“On Monday, the mood for the community was that of anxiety. Today we had gathered around the Town Hall. When the petition was referred, the first reaction was that of relief. We are also quite elated. The last judgment was a setback after keeping high hopes. We welcome today’s decision to review the petition as this is a legally sound too,” said Gowthaman Ranganathan, lawyer, Alternative Law Forum based in Bangalore.

With the petition now being sent to a bigger bench, activists saw it as a move to address basic human rights and constitutional issues. “This shows that the issue is not about a minuscule number of people but is a question of fundamental rights. I am happy that the court addresses the constitutionality of the issue. Now a dialogue is open,” said activist Gautam Bhan.

“The most important thing is this issue has finally come up again. It affects the LGBT community life and deserves attention. We now have hopes,” said Anjan Joshi, member of Society For People’s Awareness, Care & Empowerment (SPACE).

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