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Same sex relationships are now legally acceptable in India. Supreme Court’s verdict, decriminalizing homosexuality, is a big step for our country’s towards social progress.
This day marks a historic victory for human rights in India with the Supreme Court passing a unanimous verdict decriminalizing same sex relationships, thereby diluting the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.
Section 377, a part of the 1861 law, banned ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal’ which included homosexual sex. The Court however stated that acts of sodomy or bestiality, that is sexual acts involving minors or animals will still be punishable under Section 377. Apex Court said that the members of LGBTQ community have the same fundamental rights as any other citizen of the country.
After decades of fighting, this marks for a major victory for the LGBTQ community of our country. Earlier, the NGO, Naz Foundation, which has been fighting for the rights of same sex couples for over a decade, had challenged Section 377 in 2001. In 2009, the Delhi High Court had ruled in the favour of decriminalizing Section 377; however, the decision was overturned by a two judge bench of Supreme Court in 2013.
At least 32 individuals had filed petitions for the scraping of this medieval law that criminalized a human being’s right to love whosoever they want. Some of the prominent petitioners were: Navtej Singh Johar (59), a renowned classical dancer and winner of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and his partner for over two decades, Sunil Mehra (63), a journalist and former editor of Maxim’s Indian edition, Ritu Dalmia (45), a celebrity Chef and the owner of the restaurant chain, Diva, Aman Nath (61), owner of the Neemrana chain of hotels and a renowned author in the fields of art, history, architecture, and photography, and Ayesh Kapur (23), actor (best known for her performance as the young Rani Mukherjee in Black) and businesswoman.
Let us understand why this verdict is important. While the notion of sexuality and gender are increasingly evolving with the passage of time, it was highly unfortunate that even being a homosexual couple was considered illegal in India. Imagine hiding your sexuality or your relationship with a consenting adult for your entire life, because who you choose to love is illegal in your country!
Currently same sex marriage (nationwide or in some parts) is allowed in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Uruguay. Same sex marriage is soon due to be recognized in Austria, Costa Rica, and Taiwan. And then when we looked at India, forget about marriage, even a relationship between same sex couple was deemed against the law.
It was high time for India’s administrative and judiciary powers to recognize how regressive it is to criminalize same sex couples under Section 377. Let us hope that this is just the beginning of a better era for the LGBTQ community and we’d soon see India under the list of countries where even marriage between such couples is considered legal.
Image Source – TOI Video
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