Right to Privacy Act comes as a welcome change for the LGBTQ community which has been constantly fighting for their rights
We have consistently struggled to maintain our privacy in a democratic country like India. Many have criticised the move taken by the government to link Aadhaar card with the collection and processing of personal data of citizens. Then there is the constant debate over Section 377 which criminalises homosexuality. However, a recent judgement by a nine-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court stated that the “right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution. No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.” The decision is groundbreaking, especially for the LGBTQ community which has been fighting for their rights. We speak to a few people from different communities to know their take on the recent ruling.
The long tradition of sexual diversity
India was never intolerant to sexual diversity. Look at temple carvings, etc. But sexuality needs to align with sacredness of life. Protection of sexual privacy is a basic right and important for personal autonomy. Respect for and acceptance of such sexual diversity is at the core of entitlement to live and co-exist. That said, there should also be a change in the archaic mindset.
—Dr Shashikala Gurpur,
director, Symbiosis Law School
Challenging the mindset
It’s a move towards acceptance. The judgement states, “The rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population cannot be construed to be ‘so-called rights’. Their rights are not ‘so-called’ but are real rights founded on sound constitutional doctrine.” I believe this is a great move and establishes the fact that sexual orientation is a part of one’s identity and any discrimination based on that is unconstitutional. Although we see a continuous struggle in society to embrace and accept the Indian LGBTQIA+ community, I believe with this verdict we are going to challenge the bigoted mindset of many individuals. Justice Chandrachud in his ruling on the right to privacy said that privacy is an “intrinsic recognition of heterogeneity, of the right of the individual to be different and to stand against the tide of conformity in creating a zone of solitude.” Justice Chandrachud said that sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy and any type of discrimination against a section of individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual.
Such verdicts give hope and offer a strong sense that we will live freely with dignity. I think its implementation can bring equal rights, respect and dignity to the members of the LGBTQIA+ community providing a solid foundation towards challenging Section 377 and bringing a reform.
— Sonali Dalvi, transgender activist
A ray of hope
It is certainly one of the elemental rights as nobody would want anyone to invade into their personal space. We often complain about India going backwards that’s because the mindset has still not altered. I hope that this move will bring about a change.
We need to broaden our mindset and accept people the way they are. Homophobia should be completely discarded from one’s dictionary and on the other hand, some people need to understand that pre-marital sex is not a crime. There are many who still feel that women should not talk openly about their sexual needs which is absolutely ridiculous. There are also innumerable citizens of this country who are waiting for the government to make gay marriages legal. LBGTQ groups have been trying earnestly to put across their point and that should be respected.
— Debarati Choudhary,
Long way ahead
Yes, it is a welcome move indeed. Sexuality is one topic that hasn’t yet made it to dinner-table conversations. It has always been a hush-hush affair. That said, bringing about a change for the betterment of society having a stereotypical mindset is tough. We love to peep into other’s lives to fill the entertainment factor in our lives. This judgement will surely force people to find some other entertainment factor now. Though tough for the majority initially, it eventually will go a long way in taking India to newer heights. Kudos to the judiciary system for actually implementing one of the finest laws ever in India.
— Rasika Deshpande,
Of course it’s a welcome move for the LGBTIQ community which celebrated the ruling the day right to privacy became a fundamental right. Indians are not born homophobic or transphobic. In fact nobody is, it’s just because of the way they are raised, learning limited concepts about gender and sex which makes them assume things and whatever they feel is strange must be eradicated and abolished. If they are educated about it and are taught about humanitarianism, they will turn out to be more humane and less discriminative. Our education system is corrupt and actually the things that we should be taught in school is something that we are kept away from. These educated folks still don’t know the basic difference between sex and gender. Education, awareness and sensitisation is something that I am continuously working on to make society a more inclusive place for the LGBTIQ community. Whatever happens within the four walls of the house is nobody’s business. So then why is the LGBTIQ community being treated as third class citizens? We, as a community, are just being optimistic, but maybe it’s a step towards repealing of Sec 377.
— Rovin Sharma, activist — Gender Identity,
Inclusion and Diversity
Looking at the broader aspect
To understand the broader aspect of it is what needs to be projected widely. Accepting sexual diversity has not been something at which we Indians have been great at. Maybe because of the kind of exposure we get from a young age. Along with this ruling, our mindset too needs to change.
— Saptarshi Bhattacharya, doctor