In a landmark decision by the Supreme Court bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, today struck down the provisions of Section 377 which criminalised homosexual acts of consensual sex between adults. CJI Misra spoke on the issue stating that the LGBTQ community had the same fundamental rights as the rest of the citizens of India. The five judge bench included Justices RF Nariman, DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Justice Khanwilkar along with CJI Dipak Misra. The judgement on the issue had been reserved on July 17th after four days of hearing which involved passionate debate between the two sides. The judgement given by the apex court however upheld the provisions of Section 377 which dealt with bestiality or animals.
The judgement by the Supreme Court of India struck down the 156 year old law and also declared Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code as unconstitutional in the matters related to criminalising consensual sexual acts of adults in private. CJI Misra also said that the decision of the bench was unanimous which was expressed through four separate but concurring judgements. Section 377 of the IPC dates back to 1861 when it was introduced during the British rule in India. Modelled on the Buggery Act of 1533, it criminalized ‘unnatural’ sexual activities including homosexual activities.
It is a big win for the people who were marginalised and were forced to live in fear and isolation owing to their sexual preferences. Striking down Section 377 also means that the people from the LGBTQ community can now feel safe from police crackdown and can move towards leading a more normalised life. Credit for the judgement must go to the Supreme Court and the central government which has tried hard to make the atmosphere conducive for passing such a judgement. The hearings had been held without any protest or uproar from the PM Modi led central government. It is also ironic that the Congress which claims to be the face of liberalism and the keepers of the liberal values had failed to provide this freedom to a huge section of the Indian population in over 60 years of its rule. The inclusiveness of BJP led centre must be praised at this time. The orthodox, fascist and other misnomers used for the BJP seem to be dying an early death considering it has contested age old and archaic laws and practises such as Triple Talaq, Halala, Right to Privacy with Section 377 being the most recent one.
The decision by the apex court is being celebrated all throughout India by members of the LGTBQ community and supporters of human rights who believe in and have fought for individual freedom.
Historical judgment!!!! So proud today! Decriminalising homosexuality and abolishing #Section377 is a huge thumbs up for humanity and equal rights! The country gets its oxygen back! ????????? pic.twitter.com/ZOXwKmKDp5
— Karan Johar (@karanjohar) September 6, 2018
Some of the most liberal decisions from Supreme Court eg #Section377 verdict or Instant Triple Talaq or Right to Privacy etc coming under @narendramodi regime unlike last 60yrs which saw Emergency upheld yet he is accused of imposing a RW, orthodox & fascist agenda! Wow
— Shehzad Jai Hind (@Shehzad_Ind) September 6, 2018
This was long overdue. Supreme Court has struck down #Section377 – decriminalising homosexuality. Freedom to love ???
— Neha Sharma (@Officialneha) September 6, 2018
A great leap ahead for India indeed and it is high time that the Indian citizens were granted freedom from a law which rightfully should have never existed post Independence. CJI Misra rightly said in the judgement, “LGBTQ community has the same rights as other citizens do. Denial of self expression is like death.”