Meet The Woman Fighting Section 377: Menaka Guruswamy
She is making concrete arguments one after the other in the Supreme Court and calling for the protection of the LGBTQ community in her submission in front of the five-member bench. Expressing horror at the brutal stories of discrimination against this particular section of society, the lawyer is doing all she can to urge the apex court to ban Section 377. Meet Supreme Court Advocate Menaka Guruswamy who is contesting the criminalization of homosexuality in the SC currently.
The force of Menaka Guruswamy’s arguments put India’s top court to think about the human cost of Section 377
“With the Constitution in our hearts, we go to our Court, to seek to remove a colonial stain on our collective national conscience. Section 377 your time has come,” she tweeted, before starting her arguments before the SC.
Guruswamy is representing IIT students, graduates and alumni who belong to the LGBTQ community and have faced the horrors of having the law restrict them from loving the person of their choice. Her argument in the apex court is that Section 377 violates Articles 14, 15, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.
She asked the bench, “How strongly must we love knowing we are unconvicted felons under Section 377? My Lords, this is love that must be constitutionally recognized, and not just sexual acts.”
She opened up the space of what it meant to be queer, speaking of the right to love, of the Court’s own mandate in protecting individuals, of times when district judges had protected runaway inter-caste lovers from their families – National Herald
Guruswamy is the sole woman in the all-male team of senior advocates who are fighting against the constitutionality of Section 377. She not just became the first woman contesting against it, she also solely addressed the sole woman justice in the five-member Supreme Court bench—Justice Indu Malhotra.
Apart from talking about how the law works to discriminate against a section of society, she highlighted the brutal experiences the community faces in their daily lives.
“With the Constitution in our hearts, we go to our Court, to seek to remove a colonial stain on our collective national conscience. Section 377 your time has come”
Her education & work
Guruswamy studied at Oxford University and worked at a law firm in New York and as a Human Rights Consultant to the United Nations. Recently, she also became the first Indian woman to have the honour of having her portrait at Milner Hall in Rhodes House in Oxford University.
“As I walked through the halls of Oxford and this house, I was struck by how no one in the paintings that graced their walls looked like me, or really anyone of my fellow Rhodes Scholars from India, or most of the scholars from African countries or really many of my fellow scholars from the rest of the world,” she said as she delivered her acceptance speech.
In one of her interviews with the Rhodes project, when asked why she returned to India to practice law, she said, “Because my heart is in constitutional law – Indian constitutional law. Most of my practice, the practice I care most deeply about, is constitutional rights.”
If this does not show the passion of the woman fighting for the rights of a community of people, nothing else will.
Picture credit- India Today