Section 377 verdict: Supreme Court declares homosexuality is no longer a crime in India


Section 377 verdict: Supreme Court declares homosexuality is no longer a crime in India

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By ELLE team  September 6th, 2018

Section 377 verdict: In India’s journey towards being a woke nation, today’s events play an important role. In a landmark, progressive judgement, the Supreme Court has just decriminalised homosexuality by repealing Section 377. “Progressive and pragmatic view should be taken by the court to come to the rescue of the oppressed section of society. The law must be interpreted as per the requirement of changing times”, said the Supreme Court. The five-judge constitution bench was headed by Chief Justice of India, Deepak Misra. The decision, notably, was an unanimous one.  

Until now, Section 377 criminalised homosexuality, which means consenting adults were not legally free to engage in intercourse. Though the law was seldom used, members from the LGBT community were often subjected to harassment and discrimination because of it. 

Section 377 has been a point of contention for several years and the journey to get it repealed has been long and arduous. In 2001, NAZ foundation filed a petition in the Delhi High Court against Section 377. In 2009, the Delhi High Court ruled in favour of decriminalising section 377, only to be overturned by a two-judge Supreme Court bench in 2013.

Last year, the LGBT community was full of hope as the Supreme Court upheld the right to privacy. “Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy. Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual,” read the watershed judgement. The current ruling comes after several petitioners challenged the law, among whom are notable personalities like Bharatnatyam dancer Navtej Jauhar, journalist Sunil Mehra, chef Ritu Dalmia, hoteliers Aman Nath and Keshav Suri and business executive Ayesha Kapur. 

Apart from social activists, many Bollywood personalities too have lent their support to the LGBT community. 

 

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Take a look at all the times Bollywood stood up for LGBT rights:

Farhan Akhtar

The actor, who has launched MARD (Men Against Rape and Discrimination) to promote gender equality, said in an interview, "I feel it is a primitive law and does not have any place in today's society. People have the freedom to choose who they want to be with. As long as they are consenting adults, they have the right to do what they want and I don't think we should be peeping inside people's bedrooms and telling them what to do."

 


Sonam Kapoor

One of the few mainstream actors who is not afraid to identify as feminist, Sonam has voiced her support to the LGBT community on multiple occasions. Sample her tweets: 'Homophobia should be a crime. It's so shameful that a country which is known for its tolerance for a few thousand years had come to this!', 'As Indians, we are known for our tolerance and love for all. I hope this will continue to stand true.' You go, girl!

 


Kangana Ranaut

The firebrand actor is known for speaking her mind, be it her views on politics or nepotism in Bollywood. She didn't mince her words when talking about Section 377 as well. In an interview, she said, "It’s so funny that they’ve called homosexuality a crime. What’s so wrong or criminal about it? I mean, first they make oral sex illegal, now homosexuality. At this rate, everyone will be a criminal."


Vishal Dadlani

The singer tweeted that in a fair and logical world, the government/law had no business in the bedrooms of consenting adults. He also added that it was time to shed the hypocritical prudery of Section 377. He wrote, 'The sexual preference of citizens isn't something the government, the police or prudes get to decide. The law should protect the freedom of choice'.


Nandita Das

Having acted in a love story about lesbians, Fire, in 1998, it's not surprising that Das is a champion of LGBT rights. Talking about the attempt to change the law, she said in an interview, "It's a tough battle, but I'm an optimist. You can see that slowly people are talking about it and making it more mainstream it more."


Sona Mohapatra

The firebrand singer, who has spoken out against various issues like sexism in the past, has lent her support to the gay community too. She has termed Section 377 as 'draconian, unfair and regressive’, which deems a ‘large section sexual identities as invisible'.


Amitabh Bachchan

The actor had tweeted, 'High Court in 2009 gave pro judgement on homosexuality. All rejoiced, came out, got known. Now they fear being identified as criminals' and 'How will the law authorities decide or apprehend those that commit this 'crime' !!??', after a court ruling. When asked to elaborate in an interview, he didn't hesitate: “Well, I think it eats into the freedom of an individual, eats into the very concept of democracy and our constitution. Every individual should have the right to live freely.”