Celebrations are in order for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, as the Supreme Court will now hear curative petitions seeking re-examination of Section 377, which criminalises sexual activity between consenting adults of the same sex.
A three-judge bench said that since important issues concerning the Constitution were involved, it was apt to refer the issue to a five-judge Constitution Bench, which will be constituted in the future.
There are eight curative petitions that seek a review of two judgments — the December 11, 2013 Delhi High Court verdict which de-criminalised Section 377 (unnatural sexual offences) of the IPC, and the following reversal by the SC.
Though cynics carp that nothing is going to change, the LGBT community still sees a sliver of hope and the public mood is supportive as well. What the community had feared most was the outright dismissal of the petition, and that has been avoided, at least.
Whatever happens next, public spaces need to keep opening up for the queer community. This year’s Gay Pride Month broke new ground, witnessing some queer-centric events happening at mainstream venues. A college in the Western suburbs hosted an LGBT play, a club in Santacruz hosted an LGBT cricket tourney. Slowly, places are becoming less wary and more open to hosting gay community initiatives. Some of this might be because of the ‘pink rupee’ or the spending power of the gay community. However, there is little doubt that we are moving towards more acceptance — in very small ways, perhaps, but we are inching ahead, nevertheless.
Let us not depend on court judgments to open our hearts and minds. Most important is acceptance from the family. Outside, LGBT voices must be heard with more frequency, and we must continue to blur the lines between gay and mainstream. Several challenges remain ahead of us, but for now, the rainbow flag is set to fly higher at the city’s gay pride this weekend.