A Black Day

Millions are disheartened but not lost hope! As Supreme Court rules gay sex illegal and upholds section 377; the struggle is still on writes OMI GURUNG

I still remember 02/07/2009 when the Delhi High Court had struck down the Section 377 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) saying that it had violated the fundamental right of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution. Celebrations were in the air nationwide and the LGBT community worldwide rejoiced with joy. The PIL before the HC was filed by a Delhi based NGO Naz foundation, which works among the sex workers. However, as Indian LGBT community celebrated the major milestone there were many against it.

Late VHP leader BP Singhal had challenged the High Court verdict in the Supreme Court saying such acts are illegal, immoral and against the ethos of Indian culture. Religious organisations like All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Utkal Christian Council and Apostolic Churches Alliance too have challenged the judgment. The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Right, Tamil Nadu Muslim Munn Kazhgam, SD Pritinidhi Sabha, Joint Action Council, Raza Academy, astrologer Suresh Kumar Kaushal, yoga guru Ramdev’s disciple SK Tijarawala, Ram Murti, Bhim Singh, B Krishna Bhat had also opposed the verdict.

On 11/12/2013 the Supreme Court set aside the Delhi High Court ruling that decriminalised homosexuality and had struck down Section 377. While setting aside the 2009 Delhi High Court order, the apex court observed that Section 377 is a valid constitutional provision. While allowing the appeals filed by various social and religious organisations challenging the High Court verdict on the ground that gay sex is against the cultural and religious values of the country the bench said Parliament is authorised to delete section 377 of IPC but till the time this penal provision is there, the court cannot legalise this kind of sexual relationship.

The SC verdict was a major setback for modern India not just LGBT community in the nation. It was a terrible shocking Wednesday that challenged the liberal thinking and the basic fundamental rights of the citizens. Things have changed since 2009, several Gay Pride Parades and LGBT film festival held in major cities of India, bears testimony to the fact. Half the battle was won with social acceptance but decline of legal acceptance put the victory on hold. The struggle for human rights by LGBT in the world’s biggest democracy is not yet over, 2.5 millions+ LGBT community in the nation is still strongly hoping for justice to prevail in the near future.

Yoga practitioner Ramdev blatantly said “The Supreme Court has respected the sentiments of the various religious communities of India. Today they are talking of homosexuality, tomorrow they will talk of having sex with animals, Homosexuality is unnatural, I will cure you of homosexuality?” Such obnoxious theories, insensitive and meaningless comments reflect the mentality of few religious and political leaders of the country.

Several questions must be answered in the search of truth. To be honest or to lie? To betray or to love? Why do we see no known faces from the Bollywood speaking on this topic? Why are they behind the closet? What’s wrong with gay sex? Why the hypocrisy? What next for Indian LGBT? Will our lawmakers ever be united to remove the prejudice?

As the protest continues one thing is for sure the Indian LGBTwill not end its fight for its rights.

We shall overcome…

Outrage against Article 377

Black Day for Queer Rights

Omi Gurung

Omi Gurung

Omi Gurung is a well known green Indian fashion designer, writer and green activist. He describes himself as a dare devil with quicksilver tongue and maverick mind; who wears his heart on his sleeve. He is the founder of a social group Oh My India and owner of Sikkim's first eco boutique Green Gangtok. At a young age of 23, he worked as a fashion editor for a magazine run by Shakti Media Group in Bangalore. He enjoys writing on fashion and lifestyle and social issues. At present he also writes a regular column for Sikkim Insight.