A verdict on archaic laws criminalising consensual sexual acts of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) adults in private, or Section 377 of the IPC, was expected yesterday, but the Supreme Court referred pleas challenging it to a five-judge bench for an in-depth hearing. This has raised hope not only among those concerned but also Bollywood folk, who feel the British era law should have been thrown out of India decades ago.
Hansal Mehta, Apurva Asrani and Sandhya Mridul
Celebs who have worked and dealt with LGBT community or witnessed and researched on the atrocities against them shared their expectations with hitlist.
Sarah Jane Dias
Hansal Mehta, who is currently gearing up for the theatrical release of his film, 'Aligarh' based on the true story of a professor who was suspended on charges of having consensual homosexual act, says, "It's a very hopeful situation; at least they referred it to a five-judge bench and didn't dismiss it. The worry was had they dismissed it, it would have been left to the whims of the Parliament. Shashi Tharoor introduced the Bill in the Parliament and they should have dealt with it long ago, but better late than never. I have faith in the judiciary and I think they will act in the interest of the nation."
So is this the last chance for reform? "This government did not bring the law. This was what the British imposed on us in 1860. It's an archaic law and includes many acts of sex which are not Victorian in nature and which will make most of us criminals in today's time," added the director.
Also read: SC ruling on Section 377: Activists react
Writer-editor and filmmaker Apurva Asrani says the Supreme Court reconsidering the issue is in itself a huge victory. "Something very significant has happened today. It was only in 2002 that a curative petition was entertained and it is a rare occurrence for the Supreme Court to go back and reexamine itself. That is a huge victory on a human rights level. We should be hopeful now, they could have easily dismissed it right at the gate. The very fact that they have entertained it and opened it again to a five bench, it's a very hopeful situation. There are people on the grassroots working very hard on this, the lawyers collective, Humsafars Centre, Naz Foundation — they are striving to get justice for people who are slapped with this law," said Apurva.
For model-actress Sarah Jane Dias, the most worrying bit is the mentality of people. "Section 377 needs to be scrapped altogether. My stance has always been clear about this. What happens in one's bedroom is nobody's concern, unless there is an act of violence. There is enough violence taking place in broad daylight, and we have more pressing issues to focus on than consensual sex between two adults. There is a lot of non-consensual things happening, which need to be addressed," says Sarah, who played a homosexual role in 'Angry Indian Goddesses'.
Sandhya Mridul, her co-star from the film, minces no words while describing Section 377. "It's the biggest show of intolerance. And it deprives the LGBT community of their rights and, above all, their dignity. All I can say is Scrap 377!"