Rethink of Sec 377 on gay sex likely

Rethink of Sec 377 on gay sex likely

By DIBYENDU MONDAL | NEW DELHI | 6 December, 2015
LGBTs want politicians to help scrape the section criminalising homosexuality.

In what appears to be the Centre’s softening of stand on homosexuality, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said that the Supreme Court should rethink its judgment on re-criminalising consensual homosexual activities.
He was speaking at the Times Litfest held in New Delhi over the last weekend. Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram seconded the thought, saying that Section 377 of the IPC, which criminalises consenting adults engaging in same sex activities, should be scrapped. And now Congress MP Shashi Tharoor is set to introduce a private member’s bill in Parliament that would seek to amend the law.
On 29 October, the LGBT community took out the annual Queer Pride Movement in which activists draped in the colours of the rainbow were seen demanding their share of justice. They believe Section 377 denies them their basic human rights.
“Due to the existence of such a draconian law, people from our community are subjected to daily harassment, extortion, rape and blackmails. Many such cases go unreported because of the fear of further harassment by police. We are criminals in the eyes of the law. The law takes away our human rights, our right to privacy. As we are a vulnerable section of society, the police comes down heavily on us,” a member from the Queer Pride movement said.
The Queer Pride group organises several sensitisation drives, conferences, and rallies to remove the stigma attached to homosexuality. They believe it is not “an unnatural form of sex” as termed in the statute books, but a natural, physiological and mental behaviour present in some humans. They also say that the taboo attached to homosexuality is a medieval concept as “there are ample evidences of androgyny even in the Vedas and other ancient mythological scriptures”.
“We face difficulty in seeking employment; we are an unprotected section of society. We are denied assistance even in healthcare services. Some members of the LGBT community suffering from HIV and other STDs are afraid to go to doctors because of the humiliation they face. Society should accept us the way we are,” said another member of the Queer Pride group.  When asked about his message for the political class, he said: “There has been an increasing consensus among the political class cutting across parties. The observations made by Arun Jaitley are a welcome change. But now it’s time for them to walk the talk. We are sceptical yet hopeful.”
The Naz Foundation, an organisation fighting for the rights of the LGBT community, said deprivation of healthcare services and police atrocities are the major concerns of the homosexual people.  Ram Rao, a member of the Foundation said, “We get a lot of calls about harassment and extortion of these people. Many cases go unreported as the victims are afraid of society. We are working on the sensitisation of the police in Delhi and Rajasthan. We also speak to Parliamentarians, educate them on homosexuality and tell them the problems the LGBT community faces in terms of healthcare and atrocities”. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 787 cases have been registered under Section 377. Out of this, 587 persons have been arrested till October 2014. The Delhi High Court, which decriminalised homosexual intercourse between consenting adults in 2009, had given a ray of hope to this minority community. However, the Supreme Court in 2013 struck down the Delhi High Court’s order and also the review petition that was filed later. The apex court is believed to have left it to the wisdom of the legislators to decide the fate of Section 377.  Lawyers fighting for the cause of the LGBT community have filed a curative petition before the Supreme Court, which is likely to be taken up for hearing sometime next year.

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