Section 377 verdict: Gay married couple wants people to treat them normally

Sep 07, 2018, 18:03 IST | Chaitraly Deshmukh

A gay married couple hopes the Supreme Court verdict will change things for the better for the LGBTQ community in the country

Section 377 verdict: Gay married couple wants people to treat them normally
Sameer Samudra

The Supreme Court's decision to decriminalise homosexuality was much awaited in the country, and no one is happier than same sex couples. A gay couple who married in the USA, and have settled in Pune, spoke about their experience abroad and in India, and their aspirations for the LGBTQ community after the verdict.

The couple, Sameer Samudra and Amit Gokhale, have been together for the past 15 years. They work in the same multinational company where Sameer is in the manufacturing unit while Amit is in the logistics department.

They said the decision is a good, positive step of thinking progressively. It may be late but it is not too late, they said, almost in tears. The duo completed their MS and later MBA in the USA, and met on a dating site 15 years back. Five years later they were married. They lived in Colombia and returned to India last year.

Sameer recalled, "I met Amit on a dating site. We chatted for a couple of months and then met. We were both from India which brought us together, and our love blossomed. Our parents were progressive and understood us. So our marriage was an emotional moment for them too. We faced many hardships. When we came to Pune, there were prejudices and misconceptions about homosexuals, and that made living here difficult."

He pointed out that when they returned, people used to look at them as if they were criminals. Amit hopes this will change. He said, "I am very happy. I don't have words to express my feelings. After many years the LBGT community can heave a sigh of relief. Now our marriage will be considered legal in India."

'Treat us normally'
He added, "People used to question our marriage. I think there is nothing that gives me more pleasure than telling them now, 'yes, we are married'. There is a strong need to create awareness about this topic – the LGBTQ community - in society, and that people like us should be treated normally, like ordinary people. Now, after this decision, people must talk about their relationships openly."

Pradeep Divgikar

This law has got the burial it so richly deserved. As a parent, I feel relieved that our children are less vulnerable now. After this judgement as parents we look forward to other rights like marriage, maybe. Yet, it is little use stressing and fretting about all that now, it is time to celebrate the first step. Our children will have less staged lives. This Pride march one should see a jump in the number of parents as children themselves will encourage their parents to join the march.
Pradeep Divgikar

Aruna Desai

'This means a lot as a parent of an LGBT child. A lot of pain must have gone for a lot of parents across the country. I would imagine a lessening of pressure, some fear and worry for many. Now that Section 377 has been scrapped by the Supreme Court, all the prejudice needs to be scrapped from minds as well'
Aruna Desai

'A trailblazer in every way'

Parents of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) children, group with the self-explanatory name of Sweekar, speak out

This law has got the burial it so richly deserved. As a parent, I feel relieved that our children are less vulnerable now. After this judgement as parents we look forward to other rights like marriage, maybe. Yet, it is little use stressing and fretting about all that now, it is time to celebrate the first step. Our children will have less staged lives. This Pride march one should see a jump in the number of parents as children themselves will encourage their parents to join the march.

Nilakshi Roy

This means reliving freedom in as many ways as possible, relishing it and cherishing it. I think everybody, regardless of sexual orientation should celebrate this verdict. I want to see this open the gateway to other rights, adoption, surrogacy and joint property, plus the question of next of kin. This is a trailblazer in every way.
Nilakshi Roy

Haima Nizar

To everyone who fought before me and to everyone who will after me, and for those celebrating today, this day is going to hold immense meaning. But of course, laws don't always change minds and a huge chunk of our society still looks down upon homosexuality. But, in time, a positive outlook towards LGBTQ+ rights is a near possibility and that is overwhelming. A crucial aspect to this is education. Changes in the school curriculum that makes a student more sensitive, helps them to go against traditional norms is what we need to work on.
Haima Nizar, model and artist manager

Siddharth Dube

India will be a far more just and humane society because of this judgment, striking down this cruel colonial relic. All Indians will benefit - irrespective of differences in income, backgrounds or orientation in matters of love and sex. Now, police and bigots and bullies can no longer terrorise others. There is no doubt that this [ruling] will soon lead towards true equality and justice for individuals who love others of the same sex or gender, including in matters of marriage.
Siddharth Dube, author - No One Else: A Personal History of Outlawed Love and Sex (HarperCollins)

Poonam Mahajan

'People like us should have same rights as everyone else'
'Happiness was all around, as equality had prevailed again'
– Poonam Mahajan, MP and BJP youth wing national president

Ishaan Sethi

'As I was in the courtroom at the time of the judgment, there were multiple goose-bump moments for me. What was historic about the judgment was that the bench apologised for the discrimination being meted out to the LGBTQ community for years. One of the judges also spoke about the need to acknowledge such people as complete citizens of the country, and the importance of sensitising others about it. Social acceptance is going to be the next challenge'
– Ishaan Sethi, founder of Delta, India's first LGBTQ networking app

Mahi Malini Pujar

'All my LGBTQ friends have been congratulating each other since the verdict came out. I haven't felt this happy in long. At least now, we won't feel like criminals. I hope this encourages firms to hire transgender people. I was lucky to get a job, but there are so many of us who are still struggling to earn a living'
– Mahi Malini Pujar, staffer at Navi Mumbai's queer-friendly Third Eye Cafe

Milind Deora

'I'm proud of being the first politician who wrote an article in support of abolishing Section 377. I'm glad it happened. But it's sad that the Supreme Court had to do it instead of the Parliament, which is supposed to take up such amendments that ensure equality and civil liberty'
– Milind Deora, former minister and Congress leader

'It is a historical day for the LGBTQ community. Finally we are free today. The deep-rooted discrimination against the LGBTQ community in India has shattered our lives. In fact, the saddest day in my life was when I was denied rights to my ancestral property due to my decision to reveal my sexual orientation. The apex court's decision is the beginning of a new challenge to eradicate discrimination'
– Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, goodwill ambassador, AIDS Healthcare Foundation

Sameera Iyengar

The verdict is overwhelming. Feeling that it is going to come through and actually seeing it happen is really something else. I was standing at the gathering at Carter Road (yesterday) and thinking about how so many of us - some of us queer, some of us not - had come together to celebrate what has happened. Thirty years ago, we couldn't even have imagined this.
- Sameera Iyengar, co-founder, Junoon

Also Read: Section 377 Verdict: Mumbai's queer celebrate, playing the country dhol

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