On 11 December, 2013 the Supreme Court dealt a heavy blow to equal rights in India by reversing a 2009 Delhi High Court judgement that had read down Section 377, an archaic, discriminatory law that criminalises homosexuality in India. On 2 February, 2016, the Supreme Court is hearing a curative petition about its own judgement. This is the last legal recourse to reverse the judgement dealt in this particular case.
Youth Ki Awaaz reached out to various prominent individuals, asking them why it's important that the SC reconsider its decision. Here are their responses. Make sure that these voices reach thousands across the country! In the fight for equal rights, this is the first step we can all take together.
1. Vishal Dadlani, Musician
"In a logical and fair world, what business does a government/law have in the bedrooms of consenting adults? Why is it anyone's business, except for that of those involved? It's time to shed the hypocritical prudery of this Victorian law. All love is equal, and all love is good. The only thing the law should ensure is that everyone has equal rights under it, and that mutual consent is protected. The sexual preferences of citizens shouldn't be something that the government, the police or the prudes get to decide! The law should protect freedom of choice, rather than oppress free citizens. I hope Section 377 is scrapped, for good!"
2. Onir, Filmmaker
"The Supreme Court should uphold the fundamentals of the Constitution of the country and the essence of democracy. Equality, freedom, constitutional rights and dignity to its citizens irrespective of their gender, caste, colour, religion, class and sexuality.
We will never become a true democracy unless we guarantee this to every citizen. IPC 377 violates that very principle."
3. Pramada Menon, Queer, Feminist Activist
"The decision has to be reconsidered because we are talking about people and people's lives. Rights have been enshrined in the Constitution and yet an entire set of people are deemed criminals on the basis of whom they love, desire, wish to share their life with. Every individual has the right to live a life free of discrimination and using the number game to deny rights is wrong. Constitutional morality has to win over public morality!"
4. Svati Chakravarty, Co-Director of Satyamev Jayate
"We live in a democratic nation governed by principles of individual freedoms enshrined in a Constitution. Sexual orientation is integral to an individual's identity and trampling upon it is a denial of identity at a very fundamental level. It's essential that the Supreme Court reconsider its decision and uphold our democratic ideal."
5. Apar Gupta, Advocate
"The Supreme Court is hearing the curative petition on the Koushal Judgement which upheld the constitutionality of Section 377 of the IPC. A curative petition is a limited remedy, however it is important for the court to reconsider the Koushal Judgement due to a subsequent judgement by which it recognised the rights of transgenders. There seems to be an inherent contradiction in the approach of the court which presents an opportunity for it to revisit and recast Section 377."
6. Kavita Krishnan, Secretary, All India Progressive Women's Association
"I think the SC must review its earlier verdict on 377, for its own sake. Its earlier verdict was a grievous error of judgement, suggesting as it does that the rights of a 'minuscule minority' don't matter in India and that constitutional rights can be left to the mercies of majoritarian sentiment and Parliament, rather than being safeguarded by the courts. Rather, the SC should uphold the spirit of the Delhi HC verdict on 377 that underlined the difference between constitutional morality and dominant notions of morality."
7. Nivedita Menon, Feminist, Scholar, Activist
"The SC must reconsider its decision because the criminalisation of consensual sex between adults runs counter to the constitutionally protected rights of equality and freedom for all. Even if this affects only a 'minuscule minority', it is the purpose of the Constitution in a democracy to protect minorities. But in fact, we do not know how many people are actually affected because as long as Section 377 exists on the statute books in its current form, it ensures the silencing and invisibility of all who consider themselves to be non-heterosexual."
8. Preethi Herman, Country Lead, Change.org.
"Shashi Tharoor's private member bill to decriminalise homosexuality might have been shot down in the Parliament without any discussion. But, the voice of people challenging Section 377 is growing strong as is evident in Shashi Tharoor's Change.org petition that has nearly 40,000 signatures already. Section 377 not just violates constitutional rights, it is way too intrusive, encourages social prejudice and has strong public opposition -- all glaring reasons for the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision."
9. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Independent MP, Rajya Sabha
"The issue of Section 377 is less to do with the Supreme Court and more to do with Parliament. It's up to political parties now to get together and create consensus around new legislation that's keeping with our times."
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