Pune: After the right to privacy judgement in 2017, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community gets another reason to rejoice as the Supreme Court (SC) has decided to reconsider its 2013 ruling which validated Section 377 that criminalises consensual sex between the same gender.
The SC stated that Section 377, appears to hurt the sexual preferences of individuals and a section of people can’t live in fear because of their individual choice. Therefore, it is likely to review the section.
Welcoming the move, Chairman of Humsafar Trust, Ashok Row Kavi, said, “Both the laws of National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) judgement which was passed on April 15, 2014, that gives recognition to transgender identity and fundamental right to privacy under Constitution, was held strongly challenging Section 377. In fact, there is no relevance of this act now, as it was primarily meant to protect children from sexual abuse and rape of women. Both have now got a separate law, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and Section 375, a law against women rape.”
“Therefore, Section 377 just created hindrance as it intervened and transcended privacy of individuals, regardless of sexuality,” said Row Kavi. Bindhumadhav Khire, Founder of Sampathik Trust and gay activist, also expressed happiness and said that it gives a ray of hope. “Ever since the curative petition challenging the constitutionality of Section 377 was filed two years ago, we had not noticed any development. I am optimistic that if the apex court has reconsidered to review the law which means there are chances of recorrection in the law. The judgement on the right to privacy had heavily weighed in our favour and now am hopeful of a positive outcome,” he said. “This has also paved way to further discussion of the right to marriage and to adopt children,” he added.
Even Laxmi Tripathi, transgender rights activist, acknowledged the move stating it as a step forward to human development. “This move will give a medium to create an equal opportunity for the sexual minority. It is constitution’s responsibility to preserve and protect right to life and right to dignity of every section of the society. While the changes in mentality and behaviour of society will happen only in due course of time, but there is hope now,” said Tripathi.
On the contrary, Raj Rao, noted writer and former head of English department at Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) said that judiciary and government are passing the buck.
“Earlier, SC had said that government will change the law and now again SC plans to review the Section 377, although they have been giving this reassurance for a long time. Therefore, I am skeptical about it. There is a conspiracy between the judiciary and the government while in between bureaucracy has been taking the advantage of practising extortion under the claim of Section 377. I highly doubt that SC will reverse its 2013 decision on Section 377, instead, it may just exclude the clause on consensual sex,” said Rao.
“Until a reform actually happens, no difference will be reflected on the community’s status in the society. Moreover, the societal stigma on homosexuality won’t change overnight by any judgement. Nevertheless, if a law is reformed in favour of LGBTQ community, it will cause a psychological impact on people,” added Rao.