Meet The People Who Pushed To Scrap Section 377
Finally love wins! In a landmark decision, Supreme Court of India finally scrapped the archaic Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalised homosexuality. The judgment has been long overdue, and many have perished fighting for it. On this occasion, let’s remember and praise those men and women who made it possible for the LGBTQ community to have equal rights.
Dalmia is a celebrity chef and owns a Delhi-based popular Italian restaurant chain Diva. “Life doesn’t change if you’re straight or gay,” said Ritu Dalmia in an interview with the Indian Express. In 2016, she was one of the co-petitioners to challenge the legal validity of Section 377. Since she was 23, Dalmia has been fighting to scrap the law. Her crusade started when she fell in love with another woman. The journey has been far from easy. Over the years, Dalmia has spoken up about rights, freedom and the normality of homosexuality in India.
The senior lawyer has long been fighting for legal rights of the LGBTQ community. He had earlier said, it will be repealed ‘sooner than later’. Grover believes “not much remains to be done in terms of law” to repeal the appalling law that effects hundreds of lives and relationships.
Supreme Court senior judge Indu Malhotra is the only woman among the five-member constitutional bench where the petitions for Section 377 was heard in July this year. She was recently inducted as apex court judge. Malhotra became the first SC judge appointed directly from the bar, and a strong crusader of the LGBTQ community. “This community feels inhibited to go for medical aid due to prejudices against them,” she said, adding, “Not just human beings, but many animals also show homosexual behaviour. It is not an aberration but a variation.”
Businesswoman and actor, Ayesha Kapur was among those who filed petitions after the Supreme Court reserved the Delhi High Court’s judgement on Section 377, reinstating the law that criminalised adult consensual same-sex relations. Ayesha said the world has changed in a good way since the days in the ’80s Delhi where she grew up with the thought that ‘Lesbian’ was a bad word to be used, the New York Times reported.
Menaka Guruswamy and Jayna Kothari
Two young lawyers made strong arguments on how Section 377 should be ruled out so that the LGBTQ community has the right to equality. Giving examples of petitioner Navtej Singh Johar and his partner Sunil Mehra who are in a relationship for 24 years, Guruswamy asked, “What do these examples tell us?”. “That their lives have gone on in fear of persecution. These people… should be permitted to live their life in full… They are forced to live insecure, vulnerable lives,” she argued. Guruswamy also teaches at Columbia Law School. She has spent the last few years supporting and arguing in favour of the community.
Advocate Jayna Kothari, on the other hand, believes “transgenders are commonly suspected of the offence under Section 377…my client was born as a male, but identifies herself as a female…she is married, but if she indulges in any sexual activity with her husband, Section 377 would come into play”.
Another hotelier, Keshav Suri, stepped up to file a petition with the Supreme Court this year to decriminalise Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. “I am a proud member of the LGBTQ community in India and I have no qualms in admitting that I have been in a committed relationship with an adult male for a decade. Though my personal life is not up for discussion, I felt it was important to highlight the fact,” said Suri, who recently got married to his partner in Paris.
The Bengaluru-based activist was among a few from the transgender community fighting to scrap Section 377. She became an activist in her early 20s. A recipient of an honorary doctorate, Padmashali keeps voicing issues in safeguarding transgender rights. The 32-year-old challenged the Indian legal system in every possible term. Earlier this year, Padmashali co-petitioned a case on behalf of the transgender community challenging Section 377.
The 67-year-old hotelier co-owns Neemrana Hotels with his partner Francis Wacziarg. They both fought openly for their rights and were an integral part in the protest against Section 377. Aman and Francis’ relationship lasted 23 years till the latter’s death in 2014. He has adopted a daughter and has named her Aadya Nath.