Apex Court Has Upheld Constitutional Morality

th Associate Justice in Brett Kavanaugh after a wrenching debate over his alleged sexual misconduct and judicial temperament that shattered the Senate and triggered an acrimonious new level of polarization now encroaching on the court that the 53-year-old judge may well swing rightward for decades to come. No, it is certainly not all hunky-dory with judiciary as a whole in what is called a nation of litigants. There are numerous problems at all levels.  Tussle with the government of the day is a permanent feature. Millions of cases have piled up. The issue of how judges should be selected remains unsettled. Access to legal redresal for the common man and much else need reforming. Although parliament and the executive are the ones to usher in reform, the Chief Justice of India and the Supreme Court are at the top of the whole process. They most redeem themselves in the eyes of the people. To return to the import of last month’s string of judgments, senior lawyer and former minitower P. Chidambaram says: “Every judgment of the Constitution Benches of the Supreme Court delivered in 2018 has chipped away at tyranny, enlarged the freedom of the people and advanced the cause of Constitutional morality. Project Aadhaar as envisaged by the UPA has been retrieved. The ‘good’ in Aadhaar has been saved. Most of the ‘bad’ in Aadhaar has been identified and consigned to the flames; but there is more. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”   (The writer can be reached at mahendraved07@gmail.com )]]>

Consensual gay sex not a crime, rules SC

The state has no business to get in controlling the private lives of LGBT community members: Supreme Court Justice DY Chandrachud during hearing of #Section377 case earlier today

— ANI (@ANI) September 6, 2018 (PTI)]]>

'As A Privileged Gay, I Must Speak For Others'

Meet Udai Bhardwaj, a 24-year-old data and research analysis professional, who moved the Supreme Court to decriminalise homosexuality under Indian Penal Code. Bhardwaj considers himself privileged because he always found support from friends and family. He feels it is high time he became the support system for those members of the LGBTQ community who cannot fight for themselves.   I have read numerous stories of gay men and women who faced endless challenges and trauma when they decided to come out of the closet. I consider myself privileged. For, I always found support from friends, family and colleagues with regards to my sexual orientation. I have been a shy, introvert person since childhood. My troubled family could be the reason behind it; my parents separated when I was 11 and I was brought up by my mother. In school, I usually kept to myself. Nonetheless, I felt that I was unable to relate to the boys’ conversations and jokes about fellow girl students – you get my point! At 13, I was sure that my sexual orientation was different. That was a difficult phase. Amid this struggle, I kept looking for people I could confide in. But I was too afraid to come out. While trying to deal with my identity crisis, I even dated a girl in school, in the false hope that this may “cure” me and I will no longer remain a homosexual. But, I could not fool myself. My introvert nature made my insecurities even worse. After brooding over my dilemma for weeks, I decided it had to come to an end. The first person I disclosed my ‘condition’ to was a female friend in the school. I did not have the courage to speak it out, so I wrote it on a piece of paper. The girl student read it, gave me a warm hug and said it was okay, it would not change her perception of who I am. You cannot imagine how light I felt at that moment. It was such a big load off my chest. I never faced any bullying in my school or college. Clearly, I went to institutions where the environment was inclusive and people respected individual choices. The only homophobic sentence I once heard from a class mate was that all gay men should be set on fire. But that student received a lot of backlash for his view from other classmates. I kept quiet. After school, I got through IIT-Kharagpur where I had my share of love stories. There joined a support group for the LGBTQ community called Ambar in my college. Through this college community group, I got associated with Pravritti – a pan-IIT, LGBTQ support group.  I was open my college mates and they were okay with it too. Eventually, my boyfriend and I used to hang out with other friends. The most difficult part was to disclose my identity to my mom. Though my sisters knew about it a long time ago, it was only recently that I revealed my orientation to my mom. I used various ways to find out her reaction towards the LGBTQ community. I would watch Modern Family episodes in front of her. One day, while watching the series with me, she said ‘so cute’ looking at a gay couple. Seeing that reaction coming from her was a big relief. When I came out in open to her, she was a little upset that I had taken it so long to reveal this to her. She told me that I had come out to her before I would have had to go through all the struggle by myself. This brought my mother and I close. When I hear about horrible experiences of other members of LGBTQ community, I realise how important it is to have the support of your family and colleagues to weather life as a gay. Even though I have not been through any outward trauma, I can empathise with them because I have faced an internal struggle. As a privileged person, it becomes my responsibility to speak up for those who cannot. My support system has been a driving force for my doing well in my studies and career. I want every citizen of this country to get what I have. It is my turn to become their support system. This is the reason why I moved court to decriminalise homosexuality by abolishing Section 377. I know the fight is long but this is the first step, a very important step in the right direction.]]>

Tackling Homophobia Key to LGBTQ Rights

Even as a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India is hearing pleas and arguments on petitions that, in their essence, seek to decriminalise homosexuality, there is hope among India’s LGBTQ activists as well as the larger general community that the apex court will pronounce the anachronistic provisions of the Indian Penal Code’s Section 377 to be unconstitutional. The section, which was incorporated in the penal code in 1861 (or 157 years ago) during the British colonial rule and fashioned on Britain’s Buggery Act of 1533, outlaws sexual activities that are “against the order of nature”. Incidentally, Britain’s law, on which the Indian section is based, was repealed in 1967. In India, the battle against it has been on a long and twisted path that begun as early as in the late 1990s.

While it is true that there are very few arrests and convictions are rare under the contentious section, it is widely alleged in India’s LGBTQ community that the law enforcers frequently use it to harass, victimise and persecute homosexuals, which is often accompanied by extortion. It is an archaic law that ideally India’s legislators ought to do away with. But even if that doesn’t happen and the apex court decriminalises what consenting adults want to privately do with each other without violating anyone’s rights, it would a step in the right direction. But will it be enough? Probably not.

Homophobia is deeply rooted in Indian society. And most people who are not heterosexually oriented face the brunt of discrimination at work; at school and in college; and in doing the mundane thing of leading their quotidian lives. With rare exceptions, they find little support and understanding from their families and “coming out” for them is far more difficult than in many parts of the civilised world. Simple things such as renting an apartment or socialising become difficult, and sometimes, nearly insurmountable tasks that cannot be done without resorting to untruths and subterfuges. In schools and colleges, young people who are often discovering their homosexuality face discrimination and the instances of gay people feigning to be “straight” in order to be accepted is not rare. At workplaces, even those that are so-called enlightened environments, the discrimination can sometimes be subtle—snide remarks; innuendoes; and exclusion—but still deeply hurtful. The number of gay and lesbian people pressured into unhappy heterosexual marriages is not insubstantial.

In terms of their attitudes towards homosexuality, even those among India’s highly educated and economically well-off display perceptions and actions that could be half a century behind what is accepted behaviour in many other parts of the world. A woman manager with a degree from a top-notch Indian university passionately argued with me trying to defend her belief that gay men were indiscriminately promiscuous and unfaithful. In another instance, the affluent parents of a young teenager who had confided in his parents about his sexuality said they thought he’d contracted his “gayness” because he’d been befriending the wrong boys in school and that if he switched friends it might change him. Homosexuality remains a taboo subject in India, which almost invariably ignites discrimination, hatred and protests when it surfaces anywhere. Famously, in 1997, when Fire, one of the first Bollywood films to portray explicit homosexual relationships, was released, it met with violent protests by right-wing political groups.

There are no credible estimates of how many people are homosexual in India. According to figures submitted by the government to the Supreme Court in connection with the on-going hearings, the number is 2.5 million but that counts only those who’ve declared themselves officially. In reality, the number is likely to be far greater and estimates range from two to 13% of the country’s population of 1.3 billion. At the lowest of the range, it would mean that there are 26 million; at the highest it would mean nearly 170 million. The majority of India’s gay population exists in the closet for fear of discrimination and even many of those who face discrimination and are victimised choose to suffer silently in the absence of support.

India’s political parties have rarely come out in support of homosexuality and religious groups, notably those comprising the Hindu majority, have usually been vehemently against a sexual orientation that they classify as being vulgar, un-Indian, and unnatural. This is despite the fact that there is little in Hindu religious scriptures and other texts that condemns homosexuality. Decriminalising homosexuality would obviously be a step in the right direction. A repealing of Section 377 would be even better. But, if children are taught in school about the naturalness of a sexual orientation that is erroneously thought to be unnatural, that would be the best.


Also In The Series
I Will Myself Decide My Sexual Identity
Apex Court Says Criminal Clause Behind LGBTQ Social Stigma

 ]]>

SC to re-examine law criminalising gay sex

Section 377 is dead after the nine-judge bench which has said all these are dimensions of Right to Privacy. It will formally be struck down. It will be done very soon: Harish Salve pic.twitter.com/3UIuMl7DSv

— ANI (@ANI) January 8, 2018 Stating that understanding of “natural” is not constant, the court said: “What is natural to one may not be natural to the other but the said natural orientation and choice cannot be allowed to cross the boundaries of law and as the confines of law cannot tamper or curtail the inherent right embedded in an individual under Article 21 of the Constitution.” Saying that a person should not live in fear for making personal choices, the court cautioned: “When we say so, we may not be understood to have stated that there should not be fear of law because fear of law builds civilised society.” It said that the “litmus test” of law being valid is that the “law must have the acceptability of the Constitutional parameters”. The court order came on a petition by Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee Bharatnatyam dancer Navtej Singh Johar, celebrity chef Ritu Dalmia and others holding that Section 377 was “violative of fundamental rights under Article Article 21 (right to life)”. (IANS) // ]]>