M A I N   N E W S

Stunned community calls it a ‘black day’
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

The govt stand

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Wednesday said even if a move to bring a legislation on the subject is examined upon representation, there is little possibility of political consensus on the subject
Law Minister Kapil Sibal said the SC is the final interpreter of the Constitution. It has done its job and the legislature will exercise its power to make the law, he observed
The Health and Home ministries had supported the petition of Naz Foundation in the Delhi High Court hoping the courts would read down Section 377, IPC

New Delhi, December 11
Overwhelming emotions of pain and grief filled the air outside the Supreme Court where scores of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders had assembled since morning in the hope of clinching a life-changing verdict that would guarantee them equal rights under India’s Constitution. What came instead was a regressive pronouncement that spelt the first major setback for gay rights movement in India.

To the extent that it re-criminalises sexual engagement between consenting adults of the same sex - something the Delhi High Court had de-criminalised in 2009 - today’s SC order has triggered a massive wave of fear in the sexual minority community.

Rahul Kumar, a gay, who still gets to visit his family on the condition that he won’t bring his boyfriend home, says: “The highest court says I am a criminal. Where do I go from here? My existence in this country has no meaning. Suddenly I feel invisible.” While the community is stunned over a verdict they fear will be misused by the police for extortion and discrimination, Naz Foundation activists - petitioners in the case - spent the day gathering their thoughts.

Anjali Gopalan, foundation’s director, later said they would file a review petition in the SC and a curative petition if the need arises.

“This is a black day for us. We have gone back a 100 years. I feel exhausted but I won’t give up my fight,” she said referring to how the SC has given them the opposite of what they had expected.

Naz Foundation had in 2001 moved Delhi HC seeking reading down of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which says whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or imprisonment of a term which may extend to 10 years and shall be liable to fine.

The Delhi HC had de-criminalised consensual adult same-sex relationships.

The SC today overruled the lower court’s order, stunning legal luminaries. Top lawyer Anand Grover wondered how the court could read the Constitution so narrowly as to leave its job to Parliament.

“The court has retained the constitutional validity of Section 377, IPC. We had hoped it would refer the issue to a Constitutional Bench because the question is of whether gays have the same rights under Articles 14, 15 and 21 or not. We will go for review.” The SC verdict was slammed equally on the social media with historian Ramachandra Guha tweeting it to be “barbarian and medieval” and politician Derek O’ Brien recalling the 2006 petition of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, author Vikram Seth and several other thinkers who demanded de-criminalisation of gay sex.





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