Section 377 verdict: Tears, but this time of joyhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/section-377-verdict-supreme-court-gay-sex-decriminalised-homosexuality-5343978/

Section 377 verdict: Tears, but this time of joy

Amid hugs, cheers, confetti showers and beating drums, people from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) community, charted the further course of action — a larger fight for social acceptance, inclusive workplaces and constitutional rights.

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A rally at Vakola by the LGBTQI community on Thursday; (left) members of Humsafar Trust celebrate the SC verdict. (Express photo by Nirmal Harindran)

Five years ago, tears were shed as people gathered in the office of the Humsafar Trust in Vakola, when the Supreme Court had overruled the Delhi High Court order decriminalising homosexuality. On Thursday, too, there were tears in the office of the trust, but, unlike 2013, they were of joy. The SC has decriminalised sex between consenting homosexual adults under Section 377 of the IPC.

Amid hugs, cheers, confetti showers and beating drums, people from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) community, charted the further course of action — a larger fight for social acceptance, inclusive workplaces and constitutional rights.

Express Editorial | The long road to equality

“I see a rainbow in front of me today. Now that we have had victory on the legal front, it is time to work for acceptance and equality in the social front,” said Vivek Anand, a founder of the Humsafar Trust.

Cakes, jalebis and brownies were distributed as several groups gathered across the city to celebrate the verdict. While the Trust organised a pride walk in Kalina, Labia — a queer LBT feminist collective — organised a gathering at Carter Road. The Queer Collective of Tata Institute of Social Sciences held a celebration on campus.

Express Opinion | A Victory, A New Battle

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“Before the judgment came out, my heart was pounding. We have been oppressed for so long but this feels like a victory. I am glad that our future generations will not have to face the stigma of being looked at as criminals like we did,” said Alizeh Swapnil (20), who had turned up for the pride walk.

“Today is a new beginning. Today, we have been decriminalised. So now, we can bring the focus back on our constitutional rights. We need to focus on how we work towards reducing stigma. We would also urge the government and other stakeholders to work along with us to achieve this. We need partnerships to end discrimination in educational institutes and workplaces,” said Sonal Giani, an LGBTQI activist.

Members of the community said that it was time to introspect. “There are biases within the LGBTQI community, which are also reflective of the social structure. We need to address that and be more inclusive ourselves, in terms of caste and religion. This verdict is a stepping stone,” said Diti Lekha, a member of TISS Queer Collective.

Read | Section 377 verdict: What the Judges ruled

For many, this verdict paves the way for legalisation of same sex marriage. “It is a wonderful day and the Supreme Court has recognised our rights. One of the next goals is to chart the course for anti-discriminatory laws and to reduce the phobia and stigma around homosexuals,” said Kaveri, a city-based lawyer who identified herself as queer.

“It has been an ongoing debate in the community. Many battles are already ongoing and they will continue, some in the larger framework of human rights. But this verdict has become a glue for the various groups within the community,” said Chayanika Shah, a teacher and a member of Labia.