As soon as Justice GS Singhvi and Justice SJ Mukhopadhayay, who headed the Supreme Court bench that restored a ban on gay sex read out the judgment, thousands in the city wept, ruing the end of their lives as they know it. ‘We lost’ was the first message that members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community exchanged with one another. They said that they had lost their dignity to life, lost against the religious groups and lost against the country.
Calling themselves criminals and holding posters, activists carried out protests in the streets and Azad Maidan, as they said that their entire existence was now illegal and hence, they were criminals. One of the protesters said, “This country feels for the unborn, makes laws for them. But what about us, the living, who are being discriminated against?”
Arpana, a researcher with the Humsafar, added, “At a time when the country is making new laws to safeguard women, why can’t they see us? Why not take into consideration the emotions of the LGBT community? Echoing similar sentiments, Urmi Jadhav, a transgender, who also heads the transgender cell at the Humsafar Trust, said, “There are some who say that we go against the culture of our country. What culture are people talking of? I invite anyone to come visit a transgender’s home and see what culture is practised.”
And activists said that it was a black day not just for them but for the society at large too. Explaining, Pallav Patankar, head of the HIV cell at the Humsafar Trust, said, “First, we would distribute condoms so as to spread the message of safe sex and also spread awareness on AIDS. However, by upholding Section 377, I would be abetting the crime. Hence, our mission of practising safe sex is lost.”
At the Humsafar Trust, the front desk has a box where condoms are kept for free, whoever visiting the trust can pick a packet. At the trust’s office there are posters about safe sex between men.