Section 377 verdict: LGBTQIA students relieved, say the first step towards equalityhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/section-377-verdict-lgbtqia-students-relieved-say-the-first-step-towards-equality-5344430/

Section 377 verdict: LGBTQIA students relieved, say the first step towards equality

Like Sonal Chopra, college students from across the country who identify themselves as LGBTQIA (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Intersex and Asexual) were happy and relieved as soon as the Supreme Court on Thursday delivered a landmark judgment scrapping Section 377 of the IPC.

Celebrating the Supreme Court’s verdict on Section 377 in New Delhi on Thursday. (Express photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

“The second I read the Supreme Court judgment legalising homosexuality, I got out of the classroom somehow with my legs shaking, and let out a squeal of joy. We’ve been waiting for this for a painfully long time, and it’s finally here,” said Sonal Chopra, a student of OP Jindal University, Sonipat, Haryana, who identifies herself as a bisexual.

Like Chopra, college students from across the country who identify themselves as LGBTQIA (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Intersex and Asexual) were happy and relieved as soon as the Supreme Court on Thursday delivered a landmark judgment scrapping Section 377 of the IPC.

The queers at OP Jindal University got together to mark 6/9 with a small celebration, complete with a Pride flag hoisting.

Speaking on the need for the ‘normative’ in the society’s perception to change, a sociology student at Hindu College, Anushka Dasgupta, an ally, says, “What I felt when section 377 was partially scrapped was mostly relief coupled with a sense of pride in what the judiciary has done for the marginalised in the past few months, what with Hadiya, triple talaq verdict and finally this. It’s a step in the right direction but it has to be taken with a pinch of salt.”

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She adds that the verdict also signals how much needs to be done in terms of dismantling heteronormativity, the gender binary and the persecution of the LGBTQIA community.

Terming the judgment as an influence for future affirmative action, Bharat Sharma, a student at the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai,  who identifies himself as gay, says, “For this to happen when a homophobic government is in power is symbolic of judiciary’s independence. It may not change much on the ground, but legal support is the first step to total assimilation and equality.”

Speaking on the intolerance within families, Nidhi, a young blogger from a small town in Uttar Pradesh, who identifies as bisexual, says, “The elephantine challenge which still looms is how the society looks at it. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community I see this very intolerance as the biggest hurdle to be crossed- not just in the society at large but in families as well. Once our families become prejudice-free and tolerant of the differences that can exist among people, their children, we’ll make a better world for everyone, whatever their sexual orientation maybe.”

Calling it the first victory for equal rights, Tejas, a student from Narsee Monjee Institute, Mumbai, who identifies himself as gay says, “It makes me happy looking at the support on social media from people who I didn’t even expect. All of my straight friends congratulated me. Initially, I tried to correct them that Section 377 applied to them too but now it’s a case of the past. It’s just the beginning of a long journey for gay rights in India.”

“With this long overdue reform finally happening, I must reiterate (to my fellow queer community) that the government has always had an ambivalent attitude towards this issue, and the kudos for this “achhe din” can only be attributed to the court and not the government. Days of Longings have at last turned to Days of Lovings,” says Mansi Bhatia, a queer activist from New Delhi.