We at Saheli express our outrage at the recent Supreme Court Judgment upholding IPC Sec. 377, which effectively criminalizes same-sex relations between consenting adults. This move can only be seen as taking several steps backwards, as it effectively takes away rights from LGBTQ citizens and enables further discrimination and violence against a community which is already marginalized.
Section 377 imposes a patriarchal and heteronormative conception of relationships, criminalizing all those who fall outside this norm. The Supreme Court’s assertion that Section 377 is consistent with the Indian Constitution is as absurd as it is false. An outdated and regressive piece of legislation, it violates the constitutional rights to equality, liberty and privacy to which every citizen is entitled. With this judgement, the Supreme Court has failed to realize its function, to protect the fundamental rights of all persons, regardless of gender, religion, caste, class or sexual orientation. In that sense, it takes away from all citizens the right to choose one’s own partner and to choose who one loves.
Where the Delhi High Court judgment of 2009 progressively invoked the Constitution in order to assure LGBTQ citizens of these rights, the recent judgment has, shockingly, revoked them. In doing so, the Supreme Court has abrogated its responsibility towards the LGBTQ community by arguing that the rights of a minority may be ignored precisely because they are a minority. This presents a disturbing trend, especially in a nation as large and diverse as ours. It is precisely because of laws like this and the social attitudes they promote that LGBTQ citizens are forced into invisibility, making them appear even more to be a ‘minority’.
As feminists we strongly stand for the rights of all people over their own bodies, gender identities and sexualities. Such a judgment validates the attempts of conservative forces to police the bodily and sexual autonomy of others. There is a need to persistently challenge these forces, in order to protect the rights of marginalized communities and people.
We stand with the demand to uphold the High Court judgment against Sec. 377, with the view that all people, regardless of who they are, have the right to live with freedom, dignity and safety, and the assurance of the complete range of rights ensured to every citizen by the Indian Constitution.
15th December 2014