Supreme Court Verdict on Section 377: Celebrations by the LGBTQIA Community

September 6, 2018 will be remembered as a watershed day in history of LGBTQIA movements in India. On this day, the Supreme Court of India decriminalised consensual homosexual sex. A five-judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court ruled that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code violates the fundamental rights of the LGBTQIA citizens including the right to life, right to equality and right to freedom of speech and expression.

The LGBTQIA community of the O.P. Jindal Global University celebrated the judgement by hoisting the Pride flag and marching around the University in a bid to reclaim the public space. A popular slogan used during the march was “Out of the closet, into the streets”. The slogan signifies that the LGTQIA community does not merely want to claim spatial privacy, in their bedrooms, but also claim privacy as decisional autonomy. The right to navigate public spaces being who you are. Justice Chandrachud’s opinion in the Section 377 judgement precisely captures this sentiment- “the right to sexual privacy, founded on the right to autonomy of a free individual, must capture the right of persons of the community to navigate public places on their own terms, free from state interference.” (paragraph 62).

We also have some reactions from the members of the LGBTQIA community on campus:

Anushka Venketram writes:

The first time I realised there was a possibility you would like someone of the same gender was watching ‘How I Met Your Mother’ when I was 12. I’m 19 today and I’ve only learnt more about the queer community, the freedom of expression they provide to you and the freedom to be someone you never thought you could be, someone everyone else never let you be. Sadly, what has always followed me, never far behind, was fear. The fear of my larger community ostracising me because I may not fit into their box, a State holding me a criminal. I’ve always been confused about my feelings, about who I could love, kiss, fuck. To try to find out more about myself in an environment where people had to go underground, had to sacrifice lots to fight, to be seen, to be heard, to be valued, it’s just fucking hard. The battle doesn’t end today, we’ve just crossed the first frontier, but now we have hope, I have hope.

I feel Free.

Free to explore.

Free to find myself.

To be anything I can be.

Sonal Chopra writes:

I came out, or tried coming out twice in my life; once to my friends in school, and once to my mother. While my schoolmates looked at me funnily and called me names, my mother didn’t accept my sexuality. She was of the opinion that I wasn’t bisexual, because of some rubbish test she had me take at a doctor’s clinic. Not what one would call an ideal situation.

For years I’ve had days where I felt numbed by the fact that my own parents thought I was abnormal. For years I’ve gone back and forth, questioning myself and my identity, trying to rid myself of this ‘abnormal thought process’ I felt cursed with. Half of everyone’s arguments revolved around the fact that it was unnatural, and illegal in the country.

But times, they’ve been changing.

I walked out of my classroom this morning at 11:33, shaking, because I couldn’t control my emotions; I laughed, cried and hugged all at the same time. I felt liberated. I felt ready and equipped to fight the stigma that surrounds me, and those like me.

Reading the words ‘Consensual gay sex is legal’ and ‘History owes an apology to the LGBTQ Community’, as part of today’s judgment led to tears more instant than noodles. It’s a large leap in our long, arduous fight to ensure that the community gets equal treatment and rights. I looked all around me, and saw a whole room of people feeling the same things I was. It was beautiful. Thanks to the endless efforts of Muskan Tibrewala (major major thank you to you), we gathered together for a little hoisting ceremony of the Pride Flag. As I stood and watched my friend hoist our little rainbow, I realized it might be the only Flag I’d ever look up to. #lovewins #boibyeto377

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These pictures have been contributed by Akash Dubey, Parul Yadav, Sivani Madugula and Namya Bose, students of O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat.

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