“I Am Who I Am, Take Me As I Am”: SC Decriminalises Homosexuality
The Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality in India on 6 September 2018.
The Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality in India on 6 September 2018.(Photo: The Quint)

“I Am Who I Am, Take Me As I Am”: SC Decriminalises Homosexuality

In a landmark judgment, the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court unanimously, on 6 September, partially struck down the British-era law which criminalised consensual homosexual sex in India.

While reading his judgment on Section 377 of the IPC, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra noted, “I am what I am. So take me as I am. No one can escape from their individuality”.

Snapshotclose

  • CJI Dipak Misra, Justices RF Nariman, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra pronounced separate but concurrent judgements
  • Section 377 will still apply to sex with animals and non-consensual sexual acts
  • History owes an apology to LGBTQ community: Justice Indu Malhotra
  • Government should take initiatives to sensitise about LGBTQ rights: Justice Nariman

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What Does Section 377 Say?

“Unnatural offences — Whoever voluntarily has carnal inter­course against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with impris­onment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
Section 377, Indian Penal Code

In 2001, the NGO Naz Foundation had approached the Delhi High Court against it.

In 2009, the Delhi High Court decriminalised sex between consenting adults of the same gender by holding the penal provision "illegal".

The 2009 judgement of the High Court was overturned in 2013 by the apex court which also dismissed a review plea. So, in 2013, the SC restored the criminality of the sexual relationship between persons of the same sex.

The five-judge bench on 10 July had made it clear that it was not going into the curative petitions and would adjudicate on fresh writ petitions in the matter.

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'Dear SC, I'm Looking Up To You With a Lot of Hope', Says LGBTQ+ Activists Harish Iyer

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Four Judges to Pen Separate Judgments

Four judges of the five-judge constitution bench, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justices RF Nariman, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, will be penning down separate judgements in the Supreme Court on 6 September. Only Justice AN Khanwilkar will not author the judgment.

This means that the judges could be differing in their opinions even though a common verdict is reached.

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Verdict Delayed by 30 Minutes

The verdict will be delayed by at least 30 minutes to 11.15 AM due to the full court reference in memory of two senior advocates, Late Dr GC Bharuka and Late VA Mohta.

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Judgment to be Pronounced at 11.30 AM

Full court reference in memory of two late judges of the Supreme Court has concluded. The top court will re-assemble at 11.30 AM when the Section 377 judgment will be pronounced.

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CJI Starts Reading Verdict

CJI Dipak Misra has started reading out the verdict. He said it's a unanimous verdict expressed through four separate but concurring judgments.

Reading out his own judgment first, CJI Dipak Misra observes, "No one can escape from their individualism. Society is now better for individualism.”

He reads, “Sustenance of identity is the pyramid of life.”

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We Join the People of India & the LGBTQIA+ Community in Their Victory Over Prejudice: Congress

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Section 377 Will Apply to Non-Consensual Sexual Acts

CJI Dipak Misra while reading his and Justice Khanwilkar’s judgment observed, “Section 377 has been partially struck down. The law will no longer apply to consensual same-sex acts between homosexuals, heterosexuals, lesbians but will still apply to bestiality and sexual acts without consent by one of them.”

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Homosexuality Cannot be Regarded as Mental Disorder: Justice Nariman

After CJI Dipak Misra read out his judgment, Justice RF Nariman observed that homosexuality cannot be regarded as a mental disorder.

Nariman's judgment includes a declaration against discrimination against the LGBTQ community. He noted that the government must take active steps to disseminate the judgment and create awareness against prejudice. Moreover, he noted that government officials will also receive sensitisation.

LGBTQ+ Have Equal Rights as Others: Justice DY Chandrachud

Justice DY Chandrachud observed that gays, lesbians, bi-sexual and transgenders have equal rights as other citizens.

“This case is much more than just decriminalising a provision It is about an aspiration to realise Constitutional rights and equal existence of LGBT community as other citizens,” observed Justice Chandrachud.

He noted, “Human sexuality cannot be confined to a binary.”

Time for the Rainbow: Join the Celebrations

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History Owes an Apology to LGBTQ Community: Justice Indu Malhotra

The last judge pronouncing the judgment, Justice Indu Malhotra observed, “History owes an apology to members of LGBT community and their family members for ostracisation and persecution they faced because of society's ignorance that homosexuality is a natural trait, its penal suppression infringes a host of fundamental rights.”

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In Pictures: Celebrations Across the Country After SC Decriminalises Homosexuality

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Judgment on the Same Grounds of Privacy, Dignity & Constitutional Freedoms: Congress MP Shashi Tharoor

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Love Has Become the Law of Nature Once Again: LGBTQ Activist Harish Iyer

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Poet and LGBTQ Activist Akhil Katyal Pens an Emotional Poem

#Section377Verdict Ensures Queer People Can Live With Dignity and Rights: LGBTQ Activist Dhrubo Jyoti

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UN Welcomes #Section377Verdict

Welcoming the SC’s verdict on Section 377, United Nations, in a statement, said, “Sexual orientation and gender expression form integral part of individual’s identity the world over and violence, stigma and discrimination based on these attributes constitute an egregious violation of human rights.”

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What the Four Judgments Read

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Cartoon: SC Makes India Swell with #Pride, Homosexuality is No Crime!

Come out and shout: We're queer, we're here and we won't disappear!

(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

Also Read : Cartoon: SC Makes India Swell with #Pride, Gay Sex Is No Crime!

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How Our Political Leaders Reacted to #Section377Verdict

Take a look at how our leaders reacted to the historic judgment passed by the apex court. Read here.

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Rainbows, Smiles and #Pride Across India

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Five Stunning Quotes by SC Judges on #Section377Verdict

As the colours of pride fly higher today in India, here’s a compilation of some of the stunning quotes made by the Supreme Court judges on the afternoon of 6 September, 2018.

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In Pictures: India Celebrates Freedom From Criminalisation of Homosexuality

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Also Read : In Pics: India Overjoyed as SC Decriminalises Homosexuality

RSS: Like SC We Don't Consider This a Crime, But Same-Sex Relationships are Unnatural

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh voiced its thoughts on the Supreme Court’s partial scrapping of Section 377.

“Like the Supreme Court we too do not consider this a crime. However, same sex marriage and relationship are neither natural nor desirable which is why we do not support such relationships,” Arun Kumar, Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh, RSS said.

He added, “Traditionally, the Indian society too does not recognise such relations. A man usually learns by experiences which is why this subject has to be dealt at social and psychological levels.”

What Does the Supreme Court's Verdict Mean?

The Quint’s Legal Correspondent Vakasha Sachdev takes you through what this landmark judgment means.

'We Have the Trans Community to Thank. They Started It.'

Celebrations of the Supreme Court’s verdict scrapping the part of Section 377 of the IPC that criminalises homosexuality are coming in from across the country. From Delhi, to Kolkata where The Quint’s correspondent Ishadrita Lahiri brought us this scene.

Mumbai Celebrates the Supreme Court Verdict

Mumbai citizens celebrated the landmark verdict with a victory march. The Quint’s Bilal Jaleel caught up with the party.

Amnesty International: SC Verdict is a Historic Step

The landmark ruling by India’s Supreme Court decriminalizing consensual same-sex relations is a historic step, which sends a message of hope not only to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, but to everyone fighting for justice and equality, Amnesty International India said today.

The judgment closes the door on a dark chapter of Indian history. It marks a new era of equality for millions of people in India. The remarkable victory today is a milestone in the three decade old struggle by the LGBTI community and their allies in India.
Asmita Basu, Programmes Director, Amnesty International India.

The Court’s unanimous verdict has upheld the right to equality, privacy, dignity and freedom of expression of all people regardless of their sexual orientation. The apex court added that any discrimination on basis of sexual orientation is a violation of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.

“As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice’. Section 377 as it stood, violated basic human rights standards on equality, privacy and dignity. While today’s judgement answers the constitutional invalidity of Section 377, the struggle for the rights of LGBTI people continues, including in relation to marriage, adoption or inheritance ,” said Asmita Basu.

Celebrations Across India Welcoming the Supreme Court's Verdict on Section 377

From former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to activist Akkai Padmashali in Chennai, author Devdutt Pattnaik and actor Richa Chadha, we’re getting reactions welcoming the verdict from across the country.

It is an important decision. I’m happy as Court has realised the right of LGBTs, their pain and gave them proper space in the society. Most important thing about this decision is that they will be given equal rights like others.
Mukul Rohatgi, Former Attorney General

Humsafar Trust: We Waited 18 Years, but It Was Worth It, Azaadi Finally in India!

We waited 18 years for this but it was worth every minute to be finally free of Section 377. Azaadi finally in Azaad India!
Ashok Row Kavi, Founder Chairperson, The Humsafar Trust  

The Humsafar Trust is a community-based organization in Mumbai working in the area of health and human rights of sexual minorities, and one of the petitioners who moved the SC against Section 377.

18 years of hard work has finally paid off but this is just the beginning of a long journey for equal rights in society. There is so much more to do, so many dreams have to come true, but today I look forward to a good night’s sleep for I am no longer a criminal!
Vivek Raj Anand, CEO, The Humsafar Trust  

International Court of Justice Welcomes SC Verdict

“This judgment will not only have an impact in India. Its influence should extend across the world. The ICJ hopes that it will provide an impetus for other countries, especially those of the Commonwealth of Nations, to revoke similar provisions that criminalize consensual sexual relations,” ICJ Asia Pacific Director Frederick Rawski stated.

Even a landmark decision by the Indian Supreme Court cannot alone end the discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. It is time for the Indian Parliament to conduct wide-ranging review of existing legal framework, repeal discriminatory laws, and address other gaps in the law that prevent LGBT persons from fully exercising their rights.
ICJ Statement

Subramanian Swamy: Homosexuality is a Genetic Disorder Like Having Six Fingers

BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has given his thoughts on the Supreme Court verdict decriminalising homosexuality, stating, “It is the American game. Soon there will be gay bars here where homosexuals can go. HIV will spread. So, after looking at the consequences I hope the next Govt will move a 7 judge bench to set aside this 5 judge bench order.”

Swamy adds:

It is basically a genetic disorder, like someone having six fingers. Medical research must be done to rectify it.
Subramanian Swamy, BJP MP, on homosexuality

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