Section 377- “I Am What I Am. Take Me as I AM

The world had to endure highly atrocious forms of evil in the past that obstructed global progress of human civilization. From the church’s assault on personal freedom in Spain during the Middle Ages to the ghastly practice of apartheid in Africa; Human conscience has failed to protect the rights of their own neighbours. But then, with modernization, came progress which swept the world with belief systems of racial justice, feminism and tolerance of differences.

India’s ‘miniscule minority’ today finally have a reason to feel a sense of pride to have been blessed with the citizenship of a true democracy.

The LGBTQ community of India fought a herculean battle to secure their dignity among the rest. There was a major win in the past as well, however it wasn’t long-lived. But the sense of rage and betrayal from the judiciary 4 years ago, helped create more allies that joined their voices together with the victims, condemning the unexpected and horrendous judgment from the Supreme Court in 2013.

The verdict dictated by the religious right dubbed a significant population of the country devoid of fundamental rights for the way they are. If that wasn’t enough, the Supreme Court of India called the LGBTQ community as a ‘miniscule minority’ and believed that was a sufficient and justified excuse to keep them from experiencing full citizenship of the country where they were born.

Four years later, the same institution atoned for its grave inadequacy to protect the rights of all Indians. The Apex Court accepted the undeniable fact that civil liberties and personal freedom shouldn’t be at the mercy of the whims of the majority. Religious and social prejudices cannot overshadow the lives of law abiding tax-payers who do nothing to infringe upon the rights of other individuals.

Members and allies showered their support over social media and corporate giants like Facebook, Google, etc joined in to celebrate the mammoth victory in India. Top celebrities too congratulated the community and thanked the Supreme Court for rescuing one of the most oppressed group of people from further bigotry.

A law that has served more as an instrument of harassment than punishment, though the latter was not rare, should have been removed years ago. A baggage of the colonial imperial past, which the English themselves removed from their books more than 4 decades ago, couldn’t leave the law of the land. There have been several people from the community who were persecuted under this piece of Indian penal code. Majority of those were persecuted by the rampant homophobic prejudice. The scars marked by section 377 can still be seen in the testimonies of several members of the community.

Professors sacked and forced to take their own lives, children thrown out of their homes and getting fired from workplaces are some of the examples of the existence of this law.

It’s a tragic reality that majority of those who believe in the heritage of India cannot differentiate between a culture where every community had a place of acceptance from Victorian morality of the western world. But that’s what education is for.

As of now, the faith of so many people in the law and the keepers of the law have grown overwhelmingly and even though it will never be able to rectify the wrongs done by the society, it can always set an example for the future keeping the Indian Constitution as the cornerstone.