In our brand new series, BOLD, SheThePeople.TV speaks to some of the most powerful and impactful voices in India. Who better to kick-start the series than the woman who fought the Section 377 to push for the historic judgment of de-criminalising homosexuality in India. Menaka Guruswamy has been working on this case since 2010 and the journey to change has been long, difficult and arduous one. In this interview with SheThePeople’s Poorvi Gupta, Menaka talks about the impact of this judgment and why it holds much more for the future than just removal of Section 377.
“It grants LGBT Indians rights of life, liberty and really constitutional justice,” she says as she picks some of the impactful parts of this historic judgment. “Another very very important thing is that this judgment makes applicable to all of India, LGBT and non-LGBT this idea of constitutional morality. That it won’t be majoritarian morality, it will not be popular morality, societal morality that will have an impact on your life. So what are those scenarios – what you eat, what you wear, your faith or any manifestation of that faith, the ability to dissent and ability to not to dissent, this is all encompassed.”
It won’t be majoritarian morality, it will not be popular morality, societal morality that will have an impact on your life.
How Section 377 terrorised the community
Guruswamy talks about how Section 377 terrorised the community. She started working on this case in 2010-11 and is considered core to the team that pushed for decriminalising homosexuality in the country. “When I first started working on this case, when the wonderful judgment by the Delhi HC was appealed against and the matter was in the Supreme Court…I think in the aftermath of the loss in 2013, we filed reviews and I think we decided very quickly that we would have to find a way to change our approach.”
Paving the way for bigger changes
How do you think the judgment has paved the way for bigger changes to come? “Clearly, it speaks to a bright future. It’s a historic, memorable judgment but we need to reflect and celebrate the judgment and be thoughtful about the future. You have a firm constitutional base to build on,” she says. “As a country, we are a work in progress.”