The Supreme Court of India had twice refused to hear pleas for the cease of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Court (IPC), which criminalises homosexuality in the country. However, well-known personalities from the LGBT community in India have now moved the Supreme Court (SC) to hear petitions against Section 377.
Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) criminalises sexual activities against the order of nature, including homosexual acts. A huge number of requests have been made in front of the Supreme Court of India to call off Section 377, but the Supreme Court (SC) refused to hear the pleas each time.
However, the section was decriminalised with respect to sex between consenting adults by the High Court of Delhi in July 2009, but the judgement was overturned by the SC on 12 December 2013, with the court holding that amending or repealing Section 377 should be a matter left to parliament, not the judiciary.
A couple of well-known celebrities belonging to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community (LGBT) have now raised their voices against Section 377 and the SC has agreed to hear their plea on July 29, 2016.
Chef Ritu Dalmia, hotelier Aman Nath, journalist Sunil Mehra, business executive Ayesha Kapur and dancer NS Johar among others filed a petition to protect the sexual preferences of the LGBT community and said that sexual preferences are part and parcel of right to life.
Lawyers Kapil Sibal and Arvind Datar will argue for the petitioners and the plea will be heard by a bench of justices SA Bobde and Ashok Bhushan.
Raising a voice against denial of right to sexuality
According to the petitioners, their rights have been infringed by Section 377. Despite their achievements and contributions to India in various fields, they are being denied the right to sexuality, the most basic and inherent of fundamental rights. Section 377 renders them criminals in their own country and criminalises the very existence of LGBT people by criminalising their sexuality, an attribute which is as inherent and intrinsic to a person as their race or gender.
“Sexuality lies at the core of a human being’s persona. Sexual expression, in whatever form, between consenting adults in the privacy of a home ought to receive protection of fundamental rights,” the petition says.
The petitioners said that Section 377 impedes the LGBT community members’ right to be open with their friends, family, colleagues and employees.
“The petitioners are highly accomplished professionals who have been felicitated for their professional achievements, but have suffered because of the deleterious effect of this draconian law on their personal and professional lives. The petitioners are lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGBT) citizens of India whose rights to sexuality, sexual autonomy, choice of sexual partner, life, privacy, dignity and equality, along with the other fundamental rights guaranteed under Part-III of Constitution, are violated by Section 377,” it added.