Everybody’s heard of Section 377 — that monstrosity of a clause in the IPC that criminalizes sexual acts “against the order of nature”. While the language used criminalizes any and all sexual activity that does not result in procreation (i.e sex of the oral/anal variety and such like), Section 377 has been used to specifically target, and criminalize, homosexuality in India.
Introduced into the annals of the Indian legal system in 1861 by the British Raj, Section 377 continues to be an insurmountable obstacle in India’s steady march towards “progress”.
In a landmark judgement in 2009, a two-judge panel of the Delhi High Court deemed Section 377 unconstitutional. The day the judgement was read will never be forgotten by the gay rights activists who fought so hard for it and those that witnessed it.
But, this was a shortlived victory. In 2013, The Supreme Court reversed the judgement on a technicality, and, surprise surprise, homosexuality was criminalized again.
Now, SC Sinha of the National Human Rights Commission is pitching for a “suitable modification” in Section 377.
During a seminar on ‘Denial of Right to Life & Dignity of Transgender: The Dark Side of Shining India’ at Amity University, Sinha said that “consensus” is the way toward modifying ‘the contentious provision’. He added that the hope is that ‘all sections of society will work towards ensuring that everyone, irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity, will be treated as equals’.
He went on to say that the fundamental rights promised to the citizens of the country apply to every citizen and that these rights include all the facets of gender equality, “including same-sex relations”.
More than 80 percent of Commonwealth nations continue to hold on to archaic anti-gay laws. While the right thing to do would be to strike down Section 377 altogether, talking about modifying it is a start. Heres hoping India can find its way to a better, more evolved future!