Pride Over The Years in India

We know that Marsha P. Johnson was the first woman who was trans and black who stood up to the police brutality against the LGBTQIA+ folks, especially to those who identified as gay or trans. And thus began celebrating pride all over the world in the month of June.

Let’s look at the revolution that started in India and how the governments, courts, media and the society have collectively illtreated the community and kept away from their right to exist, to express and to love. The first known protest for gay rights in India happened on August 11, 1992 outside the police headquarters in Delhi’s ITO area. The protests opposed the action of the police who had arrested men from Central Park in Connaught Place on the suspicion of them being homosexuals and this was headed by AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan (ABVA). In 1994, ABVA also filed a public interest litigation (PIL)  in the Supreme Court to scrap Section 377 as it was against the constitutional rights of people according to Article 14, which emphasizes equality for all. 

India’s first ever pride which also happens to be the first South Asia pride march was held in Kolkata on July 2, 1999 and shortly after that many cities joined the bandwagon including Bhubaneswar, Awadh and Dehradun. 

Naz Foundation has been tirelessly working towards getting LGBTQIA+ people their rights and in such a legal battle between them and Govt. of NCT Delhi, the Delhi High Court favoured homosexual relationship between two consenting adults as a right given by the Indian constitution. 

In a turn of events, in 2013, the Supreme Court overturned the decision by Delhi High Court and we were back to square one. 

Two years later, in 2015, parliament member Shashi Tharoor introduced a bill decriminalising homosexuality which the Lok Sabha didn’t find important enough to pass. However, in 2017 during another such case of homosexual relationship, the court said that section 377 is a barrier towards the citizens accessing their fundamental right to privacy. 

Finally, on September 6, 2018, the Supreme Court unanimously scraped Section 377. Justice Chandrachud called it an “anachronistic colonial law” and regarding gender identity, he noted that human sexuality cannot categorise individuals using a binary male/female construction. Justice Malhotra spoke about the fundamental right to health and expressed grave concern about the high incidence of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases in LGBT communities across India. Justice Indu Mahotra said, “History owes an apology to the members of the LGBTQIA+ community”.

While the discriminatory laws against the community have been abolished, has the discrimination stopped? The groundwork and sensitisation needs a lot more push and we can only try to do better for the community. 

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