ITANAGAR, Sep 6: In a historic verdict, the Supreme Court on Thursday decriminalized Section 377 of the IPC, which had deemed that gay sex was a punishable offence.
“Consensual sex between adults in a private space, which is not harmful to women or children, cannot be denied as it is a matter of individual choice. Section 377 results in discrimination and is violative of constitutional principles,” the Supreme Court said.
The five-judge constitution bench, comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, gave unanimous decision on it.
“Members of LGBTQ community and their family members are owed an apology from society for being denied equal rights over the years,” said Justice Malhotra.
While the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) community in Arunachal Pradesh was not very open about celebrating the verdict as other states, some shared their opinions with this daily.
A transgender, who did not wish to be named, said the people of Arunachal still have a long way to go in terms of accepting the LGBTQ community in the true sense.
“We did not decide to be born this way. This is natural for us as being heterosexual is to them,” she said, adding that there are many who hide their sexual orientation and get married and ruin the lives of their partners.
She also highlighted the daily concerns they are faced with, such as getting rejected in interviews, especially for government jobs.
“While I have not personally applied for a government job, LGBTQ friends who had applied for jobs in the police department tell me that they have been rejected because of their appearance or are given lower marks in physical tests even after clearing all the obstacles with ease,” she said.
Since many are not accepted into jobs, the chance of them resorting to begging also comes into play, she said.
She also claimed that HIV/AIDS is spread largely through self-proclaimed straight men indulging in sexual activity with transgender persons.
“They do not accept their sexual orientation or use safety measures and spread the disease to the partner of the opposite sex,” she said.
It has been reported that people in bathrooms also question the identity of a transgender. While women may give awkward looks, men resort to mocking them.
“It would help if there were bathrooms for the third gender to avoid an uncomfortable encounter for everyone,” she said.
A few others also highlighted issues of discrimination that the LGBTQ community has to face on an everyday basis.
Another transgender person said it is difficult for them to get admitted in the general wards of hospitals.
“Women don’t want us in their wards, saying that we are men, while men also don’t want us in their wards, saying we are women,” she said.
She claimed that oftentimes the police do not register cases of sexual assault or harassment, citing their own reasons and allegedly mocking them.
Since families are also conservative regarding their sexual orientation, many have left their homes.
“Only a handful of people are accepted by their families,” she says.
Earlier, Arunachal had an NGO working for transgender persons, but it was later dissolved. The NGO brought together around 25-30 transgender persons who were working actively for LGBTQ rights.
While the SC’s verdict for now only decriminalizes gay sexual activity in private, the LGBTQ community has a far longer journey ahead in terms of gaining the full range of fundamental rights. (With PTI inputs)