Sec 377 hearing: Ashok Row Kavi applauds razor-sharp focus on first day

Updated: Jul 11, 2018, 11:59 IST | Hemal Ashar

Grand old man of gay rights movement Ashok Row Kavi applauds razor-sharp focus on first day of SC hearing petitioners' pleas seeking scrapping of Section 377

Sec 377 hearing: Ashok Row Kavi applauds razor-sharp focus on first day
Petitioners Romel Barel, Krishna Reddy and Anwesh Pokkuluri interact with the media near the Supreme Court on Tuesday. Pic/AFP

A Constitution bench of the Supreme Court began hearing pleas on Tuesday seeking the scrapping of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which criminalises consensual sex between same sex adults.

Ashok Row Kavi, flag-bearer of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) movement, said, "The first day seemed absolutely spot-on. There was diamond hard focus on one aspect — the constitutional validity of Section 377. That is all the judges wanted to know, whether it fits into the framework of human rights of the Indian Constitution."

Ashok Row Kavi
Ashok Row Kavi

Kavi added, "There were a lot of extraneous statements like I cannot hold my lover's hand and such while the petitions were being heard. The court cut through all these and went straight to the heart of the matter. This Bench hearing the petitions deflected all side shows, which is how it should be. In fact, both sides, those representing the petitioners and those representing the Central Govt, too, wanted a razor sharp focus on Section 377.

A lot of intelligent questions were asked through the hearing — one which stood out was Justice Indu Malhotra (part of the five-person bench hearing the petitions) who asked: 'Are there other animals which exhibit homosexuality?'" Kavi himself answered that question with, "they do. So, with that I think she was establishing grounds that there is nothing unnatural about homosexuality."

Row Kavi, 71, considered the grand old man of the Gay Pride movement, is now passing on the rainbow baton to younger activists, and said that the precision of what had transpired on Tuesday, the crisp questions and answers all showed that the real issue was addressed. Kavi explained, "The issue is that Section 377 considers some as different from the citizens of India. This means that when I am born a homosexual, I automatically become classified as a criminal."

Kavi summed it up, "We could take back from the first day of hearings that everybody was on the same page. It is Section 377 that is the messy part and there was a feeling that this has to be dispensed with. The questions were logical and within the framework of human rights enshrined in the Constitution. I am positive after Tuesday. Now, in the evening of my life, I can say that all the battles have not been useless, some have succeeded. I can see light at the end of this tunnel."

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