Saturday, January 30, 2016

A letter from queer India, supporters and allies

Happenings, Jan '16 (Update 1)
'377 No Going Back' campaign is organizing vigils across the country ahead of February 2, 2016, the day the Honourable Supreme Court of India is likely to hear the curative petition in the matter of Section 377, Indian Penal Code

Dear Reader

A court does not confer Fundamental Rights; it confirms their existence. The right to dignity, liberty and equality is ours, as per the Constitution of India. But a law that is currently in our statute books prevents its citizens, in particular lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender Indians, from realising these rights.

In July 2009, the Delhi High Court in its judgment on Naz Foundation Versus Government of NCT of Delhi and Others, read down Section 377, which criminalizes non penile-vaginal intercourse, so that it did not apply to consenting adults. The judgment understood how this law made us felons because we express our sexuality in ways that Section 377, and society at large, deems 'unnatural', and that it discriminated against LGBT Indians. The High Court limited the scope of the law and 'freed us'.

This freedom was short-lived. On December 11, 2013, the Honourable Supreme Court of India set aside the Delhi High Court judgment, ruling that only “a minuscule fraction” was affected by Section 377 till date, and that the Delhi High Court had been too anxious to protect our “so-called rights”.

On Tuesday, February 2, 2016 the Supreme Court will hear the curative petition that was filed against its judgment of December 2013. A bench of judges will decide whether the verdict is sound, or needs to be examined further. The petitioners, who include queer Indians, parents of LGBT persons, mental health professionals, academicians and filmmakers backed by lakhs of Indians, LGBT or not, will wait in hope that the unjust verdict will be undone.

Why the curative petition?

Before the Supreme Court gave its judgment of December 2013, the petitioners gave the court proof of how Section 377 was applied by the State, the police and several vested interests to torture, abuse and violate people’s lives and bodies. Yet, the Supreme Court judgment stated that: “The Section 377 IPC does not criminalize a particular people or identity or orientation. It merely identifies certain acts which if committed would constitute an offence. Such a prohibition regulates sexual conduct regardless of gender identity and orientation.”

You cannot separate an act from a person. If you regulate an act while refusing to acknowledge the prejudice that governs this regulation, then you extend the violence of such regulation towards the person committing those acts.

Sexual expression is at the very core of one’s personhood; to deem that certain kinds of sexual acts done by consenting adults in their private sphere should attract a sentence of life imprisonment therefore is a draconian statute for the entire citizenry and further it does criminalize 'a particular people of a certain identity and orientation'.

Our legal battle has lasted over a decade. Through all these years, we have taken strength from our unwavering belief that we are right; our demand for our rights is part of the larger chorus of voices of disenfranchised Indians across the country asking that State and judiciary do right by them. Victor Hugo had once said, “Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come”. Equality, of gender, sexuality, between classes and castes, across regions and languages is the idea whose time has come!

We urge you to ask that this judgment, which denies us our right to liberty, dignity and equality, be corrected. Join us in asking for a more equal India.

Contacts for vigils in different cities:

Ahmedabad event: Dhaval 0091 90990 24458

Chennai event: Sivakumar 0091 98406 99776 (Tamil), Sankari 0091 95518 37719 (Tamil), Srijith Sundaram 0091 98844 56460 (Tamil), Jaya 0091 98418 65423, Moulee 0091 91766 41289, Vikram 0091 92451 25290

Delhi event: Mohnish Malhotra 0091 98912 28951, Manak Matiyani 0091 95601 00255,

Guwahati event: Abhishekh 0091 97060 41391, Minakshi 0091 98642 20806, Sanjib 0091 80110 17650

Hyderabad event: Priyank 0091 98862 02027, Dipankar 0091 90008 75390

Imphal event: Santa Khurai 0091 84159 25251, Pavel 0091 98629 06147,,

Kolkata event: Souvik Som 0091 98305 56327, Pawan Dhall 0091 98312 88023, Avinaba Dutta, Civilian Welfare Foundation

Mumbai event: Pallav Patankar 0091 96190 12251, Lesley Esteves 0091 98102 97743

Nagpur event: Anand Chandrani 0091 93256 32795


  1. Posted on behalf of Santa Khurai, Imphal: "We are not looking forward to a negative response. Rather we're hoping that the section will be deleted because repressive laws should fly away with time, and this is 2016. Section 377 has stayed and tortured the LGBTI community long enough!

  2. CJI TS Thakur said "We are capable of protecting the rights of all sections of the people. It is our responsibility. Rule of law and constitutional guarantees are enshrined". It's time to prove his words.
    But no matter what happens on 2nd February in Supreme Court, we will continue our fight to reclaim our right.
    - Souvik

  3. The fight will go on ! Its time for all of us to use all our resources and contacts to circulate this letter to the people whom we know. We will face the Court with High Spirits and Faith! I Hope the Judiciary Of India will not SHAME India anymore !

  4. Posted on behalf of Souvik Ghosh, Kolkata: Let's fight back. There is nothing called first or last chance. Opportunities are there in every moment. We just need to take responsibility to take it up. It's tough, it's hard, it needs patience. It's painful, but let's always remember that even our country didn't get freedom in one go. Wherever we stay, wherever we work, whatever schedule we have, let us put a small effort and contribute for the fight for our rights. You are the best person to define the significance of this effort and role in it as a human being first and then other identities. Let's shout together - 377 No Going Back!