On the 6th of September 2018, The Supreme Court of India changed Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code in a landmark ruling. This Section had previously made consensual gay relations illegal and placed it on the same level as other acts such as bestiality etc. This law was derived from the Buggery Act of 1533 of the British Penal Code.
The protest against the section started to pick up speed in July 2009 when LGBT groups got the SC to remove parts of it. But on 11 December 2013 it was again reinstated on the grounds that repealing or amending it was the job of the parliament and not the judiciary.
Finally, upon persistence from the LGBT community, the Supreme Court decided to set up a constitutional bench of five in order to review section 377. Consequently, it was modified to exclude same sex relations between two consenting adults. About the decision, CJI Dipak Mishra said, “The case is about an aspiration to realise constitutional rights. It is about enabling these citizens to realise the worth of equal citizenship. Above all, our decision will speak to the transformative power of the Constitution.”
The ruling was met with widespread joy and was seen as a step forward for an India whose laws were mired in old traditions and had not quite arrived in the 21st century. People were finally free to express their love for each other regardless of their sexual orientation.
As an Indian millennial, I was never able to understand the restrictions on same-sex relations. For me, it almost felt as if the state was interfering in a person’s life, stuff like which you could only find in movies where the nation was controlled by a harsh dictator.
But as I grew up, I began to understand the views of the other section of society. While I did not agree with them at all, I realised that their thinking was a result of old values and traditional. When my family had a conversation on this topic, my father himself was apprehensive about there even being a concept such as same-sex marriage. But as he was exposed to more and more same-sex couples that appeared on news channels, he began to warm up to the idea. Even certain sections within my friend circle seemed to take this ruling with a little bit of salt.
I would therefore like to think that this ruling would change everything about same-sex relations and while it is a major step to do so, it would require a bit more time and a lot more awareness to change society’s stigma around this issue and be more accepting. But I believe in my country and its 1.2 billion inhabitants and I hope and pray that there finally comes a time where love rules over all regardless of caste, creed, colour and MOST importantly sex.
Here’s hoping for a more colourful India.