Soon after the Supreme Court, in a landmark judgement on Thursday, struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), celebrations broke out across the nation by the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex (LGBTI) community.
Speaking to ANI, an overwhelmed LGBTI activist Sadhana Mishra said, “We are feeling very proud. It is a historical judgement. I would like to thank the Supreme Court.”
Terming it as truly historic, Ankit Gupta, who is an activist fighting for the rights of the transgender community, explained the order, “It says that the rights which are granted by the Constitution of India are enjoyed by the LGBTI community as well. It is a day to celebrate. We have won the legal fight, but in society, we still have to gain victory.”
An enthused Ashok Row Kavi, another activist, said, “We have finally got justice. We are finally ‘azaad in azaad Hind’.”
Earlier in the day, a five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra and comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud, Rohinton Fali Nariman, A M Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra, gave the verdict on a bunch of petitions filed to scrap the law. The bench had earlier reserved its verdict on July 17.
“Right to Privacy is part of the right to life for the community of LGBTI. No one can escape from their individuality,” the CJI added. The judges also observed that criminalising gay sex is “irrational and indefensible.”
Supporting same-sex relationships, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, said that homosexuality is “not a mental disorder, which has also been recognised by the Parliament.”
Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) is a law that criminalised homosexuality, punishable for a jail term of 10 years.
The law punished “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal” and thus had bigger implications for same-sex relationships.
The Delhi High Court, in 2009, decriminalised homosexuality. But in 2013, the Supreme Court restored the colonial-era law. Three years later, the top court agreed to hear Section 377 petition once more.
During the hearing in July, the central government told the apex court that it would leave to the wisdom of the court to decide the constitutional validity of Section 377.