By The Ladies Finger
To paraphrase a friend, today’s weather forecast- Rainbows with a chance of more rainbows!
As of today, Section 377 has been read down so that consenting sexual acts between adults have been decriminalised by the Supreme Court of India. Bestiality and non-consensual acts are still covered under Section 377. The judgement is rooted in the fact that queer people are entitled to the same rights of autonomy, intimacy and privacy as heterosexuals.
A colleague likened the slow proceedings to the unfolding of an Ekta Kapoor teleserial (according to Firstpost, some lawyers were calling the sealed envelope with the judgement the “Envelope of Freedom.”) and boy did the judges too go all out, from CJI Dipak Misra appealing to our angsty side with his dramatic phrases like “Denial of self-expression is like death”, “Take me as I am” and “Look for the rainbows in the clouds” to Justice Chandrachud just casually reciting a poem in his statement.
Thankfully, the serial reached a happy happy ending, minus any plastic surgeries or reincarnations and we are beyond ecstatic.
Of course, as writer and activist Meghnad tweeted, “Till yesterday, India was at -1 regarding LGBTQ+ rights. Today, we are at 0. Let’s hope, sometime in the near future, we score a +1.”
Lawyer and co-founder of Centre for Law and Policy Research Jayna Kothari tweeted before the hearing came out that there were four possible outcomes, of which the final judgement took the moderate route to read Section 377 down.
The judgement may be limited in its scope, focusing solely on decriminalising gay sex but it paves the way for marriage and other civil rights. While Justice Indu Malhotra said that “The Constitution protects the fluidity in sexual relations”, the SC has also suggested in its judgement that the police be sensitised and counselling practice work on de-stigmatising homosexuality. The Supreme Court has also said that this verdict will be considered in all pending prosecutions.
For now, congratulations to everyone who made this a possibility, from the lawyers representing the petitioners to all the LGBT activists who have spent years fighting for their basic human rights to be upheld in the court of law. For a list of the lawyers on the winning side, check out LiveLaw’s homage.
Congratulations To The Winning Team @Mukul_Rohatgi
CU Singh@jaynakothari #Section377 #Gaysex#Homosexuality#LGBTQ pic.twitter.com/pZNaftEYPM
— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) September 6, 2018
To sum up our smugness and glee, “We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it.” (Quote courtesy Overrated Outcast in a Newslaundry article about what it means to be gay in India.)