The Time 100 most influential people of 2019 includes lawyers Arundhati Katju and Menaka Guruswamy, who were instrumental in the Supreme Court partly striking down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.
Actor Priyanka Chopra wrote for the magazine that Katju and Guruswamy became beacons of hope for the Indian LGBTQ+ community.
“Their perseverance and commitment led an entire community to a historic win by humanizing their struggles and giving them the freedom to love,” wrote Chopra.
Katju and Guruswamy were among the lead lawyers representing petitioners to have the ban on consensual gay sex struck down in the country.
They argued that sexuality and its expression are fundamental human experiences, and to enable discrimination on the basis of sexuality and its expression denies individuals their fundamental human rights.
“How strongly must we love knowing we are unconvicted felons under Section 377? My Lords, this is love that must be constitutionally recognised, and not just sexual acts,” Guruswamy had asked the Supreme Court bench, according to The Wire.
Katju, according to The New Indian Express, said that when she met a lot of people belonging to this section, she was shocked by the treatment meted out to them. “Hence, I decided to be a part of this team.”
Katju and Guruswamy have helped take a giant step for LGBTQ+ rights in India, Chopra wrote.
The Supreme Court struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code in a unanimous vote in September 2018. The colonial era-law had rendered all sexual activities “against the order of nature” punishable by law.
The Time 100 Most Influential People 2019 list was released on Wednesday, naming the world’s most influential pioneers, leaders, titans, artists and icons of the year.
Indian-origin comedian Hasan Minhaj is also part of the Time list. Comedian Trevor Noah praised his show ‘Patriot Act’ and said that it is the “manifestation of Hasan’s whip-smart commentary, charisma and sincerity”.
The list also includes Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani. US President Donald Trump, Pope Francis, Chinese President Xi Jinping, golfer Tiger Woods and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, among others.