The Supreme Court is currently hearing a number of petitions challenging Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a colonial-era law which criminalises homosexuality.
In a significant 2009 ruling by the Delhi High Court, Section 377 was described as a violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution, thus paving the way for its withdrawal from the statute books. This ruling was challenged by various religious groups.
In 2013 the Supreme Court reversed the Delhi High Court’s order—a massive setback for the LGBT community. The apex court argued that it was the Parliament’s job to scrap laws. Many argued that this ruling was a major set back for human rights.
However, beyond the legalities, the fight against Section 377 also marks a major shift towards societal acceptance of not just homosexuals, but individuals who don’t identify themselves within the narrow confines of heterosexuality. Members of the LGBT community have shared heart-rending stories about the prejudice they suffer not just in society, but also from their families back home.
Also Read: Does the Landmark Right to Privacy Judgement mean the end of Section 377?
Many were forced to endure the horror of undergoing medical procedures or sent to psychiatrists to “cure” them by their families. Those who resisted were banished from their homes. Some just left home in utter disgust at their family’s inability to accept them. While many parents continue to distance themselves from their children who came out to them, some have changed for the better.
Here is one heart-warming story of Danish Sheikh, a queer rights lawyer, who came out to his parents six years ago. The underlying message is people can change for the better – something we can all get behind.
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(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)