In a unanimous verdict, a five-judge verdict, the Supreme Court of India struck down the British colonial era law – Article 377 – decriminalising consensual gay sex. The ruling is a victory for millions who have faced discrimination due to the 150-year-old law; and finally, one of the last few Victorian era laws have been repealed.
The five-judge bench repealed one of the worst legacies of colonial era rule and along with that gave the LGBTQ community a broader ruling on them to live free from persecution.
With a population of 1.21 billion people and being the largest democracy in the world, this ruling has a greater impact, which transcends the borders of India. This landmark judgement will have direct implications for other Commonwealth nations that still outlaw homosexuality and to the Indian diaspora worldwide. The case for decriminalisation was being fought by the former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi who aptly mentioned that the “order of nature referred to in Section 377 was not that of ancient Indian culture but rather the Victorian morals of the 1860s”.
The repealing of the law has been supported by many including the likes of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living and ISHA Foundation’s Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev besides social activists and NGO’s, while the opposition came from the Church bodies who fought against the decriminalisation.
Welcoming the judgement Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Art of Living said: “Nobody should face discrimination because of their sexual preferences. To be branded a criminal is absurd.”
Echoing his views was Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Isha Foundation who said: “As far as I am concerned, every human being has a right to be whoever he wants to be as long as he does not harm anyone. At the same time, we must look at long-term implications and handle them now when the issue has come up. Sexuality is a personal thing, it need not be a revolution on the street. This is not a prudish country. Right from ancient times, even our gods are involved in asexual activity so it is not a strange thing for us.”
Kashmir has a history of gay love and liaisons, so much so that the Kashmiri language has a name for them, ‘Monde Baaz’. At one point Kashmir allowed for cultural and sexual diversity, a permissiveness that soon disappeared. While the country celebrated the end of the Victorian era Article 377, one would have thought the LGBTQ community in Jammu and Kashmir would finally get to fly with pride. However, Kashmir has its own constitution and follows the Ranbir Penal Code as opposed to the Indian Penal Code followed elsewhere in the country. But looking at the silver lining, the war torn region’s prominent LGBTQ activist Dr Aijaz Ahmad Bund welcomes the verdict, remains hopeful and dreams of holding a pride march in the state
Speaking about the verdict, our MD Manish Tiwari said: “The LGBTQ community has always been an integral part of Indian culture, with transgender community being seen as a symbol of good luck during any celebrations to the gender fluidity through history. So, the scrapping of 377 isn’t India getting Westernised but of India revisiting her roots, where gender and sexual orientation was celebrated and not looked down upon.”