A curative petition is the last judicial resort available for redressal of grievances in court and while a legal battle is under way, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community has found support from the Congress and CPI (M), who have agreed to work towards amending section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises homosexuality in their manifesto.
“Political parties cannot ignore us. We need to know their stance on IPC section 377 which criminalises homosexual intercourse even when it is between consenting adults and done in privacy,” said Bindumadhav Khire, gay activist and founder of Samapathik Trust. “We have read the manifesto of the Congress and CPI (M) in which the parties have said that as part of the health rights, they will bring about a change in IPC section 377,” he said.
The Congress manifesto says they will enact a law to ensure consensual sexual elections between adults of the same sex are not criminalised while the CPI (M) manifesto for the 16th LS elections also says the party will amend section 377 accordingly.
It was a major setback for the LGBT community and gay rights activists when the Supreme Court recently threw out a ruling of the Delhi HC in 2009 that decriminalised homosexuality. Since then, gay rights activists and LGBT groups have been garnering support from various sections of society.
Samapathik Trust has been providing HIV/STI Prevention services to 1,600 men having sex with men (MSM), gay, transgender population in Pune and PCMC, through targeted intervention programme funded by MSACS (Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society). Khire’s mother Shakuntala, along with several mental health professionals such as Dr Bhooshan Shukla from the city have filed their say in the curative petition.
The Supreme Court has agreed to consider the plea for an open court hearing on curative petitions filed by gay rights activists including Harish Salve (appearing for teachers), Ashok Desai (appearing for filmmaker Shyam Benegal), Mukul Rohtagi (on behalf of parents of LGBT persons), Anand Grover (Naz Foundation), Shyam Divan (Voices against 377) and C U Singh (mental health professionals), among others. The petitioners have urged that the case should be heard by a five-judge bench.
Khire said that so far, only AAP candidate Subhash Ware and Independent Arun Bhatia had met him and promised to work towards amending section 377. “AAP, however, has not mentioned their stance on IPC section 377,” Khire added.