Mumbai: Humsafar Trust celebrates as SC refers plea against Sec 377 to a five-judge bench

Celebrations were in order at the Humsafar office yesterday, as the Supreme Court referred a petition challenging Section 377 to a five-judge bench

Hoots and hugs filled the small Humsafar Trust, a non-profit that works for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) rights office in Vakola on Tuesday afternoon, the minute news broke that the Supreme Court referred the plea against Section 377 to a five-judge bench. A packed office was watching the proceedings on a TV set in the office. People yelled in triumph, while some stood on chairs screaming, “Victory!” as they unfurled the rainbow flag.

Also Read: Supreme Court refers Section 377 plea to constitution bench

Triumphant yells as the news breaks
Triumphant yells as the news breaks

At first, the nervousness and uncertainty was palpable. “Hope is all we have,” said Brian M of Humsafar trust, who was pacing around the room, waiting to hear the development. Then the tension that filled the room a few minutes ago dissipated, replaced with jubilation. The minute the decision was announced, the CEO of Humsafar, Vivek Anand, who was busy talking on the phone was dragged out into the main section of the office, by the jubilant crowd.

Happiness all around at Humsafar Trust’s office
Happiness all around at Humsafar Trust’s office

“Given the rarity of curative petitions that are referred to benches, this a big victory for us. Our main focus now is working out a policy to lobby with politicians in Delhi. I think, we, as a community, had become complacent after the Delhi High Court ruling,” said Anand.

Read Story: Bollywood folk on Section 377: Scrap it now!

Badges condemning Section 377 being distributed
Badges condemning Section 377 being distributed

Every new person entering the office was pulled into a hug, making curious neighbours peek in, puzzled to see the otherwise sombre office abuzz.

Tension at the Humsafar Trust office ahead of the Supreme Court’s decision. Pics/Sameer Markande
Tension at the Humsafar Trust office ahead of the Supreme Court’s decision. Pics/Sameer Markande

Hearing all the noise, there were a few people from neighbouring offices who peeked inside the Humsafar office, mumbling about “ajeeb log,” and “what is going on” but those inside the office couldn’t care less.

Transgenders in the crowd broke into an impromptu jig, picking up others. Two men retreated into a corner and shared a passionate kiss to celebrate. Selfies ruled and there were a number of phone calls to friends who were absent to share the good news.

“I’m not going to sleep tonight, it’s a big step towards inclusion and I am going to celebrate till sunrise,” said Pallavi M, who said, “chalo party karte hain” (let’s have a party).

Many, who had gathered at the Humsafar Trust office, had taken leave from work to be there, and made most of the positive judgment. While there was much celebration, some were also sceptical about further proceedings.

“I am not pinning my hopes too high, because if things go wrong in the next hearing, I don’t want to be dejected,” said Richa Vashisth, head counsellor at Humsafar.

The positive turn of events has given the community a push towards making the Mumbai queer pride march on February 6 even bigger, said Anand, whose words were met with a loud cheer of, “We are going to rock the pride march!”

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