Same-sex relationships had already been decriminalized in 2009 before being criminalized again a few years later in 2013.
In August 2017, a landmark ruling by the Indian Supreme Court upheld the right to privacy as a fundamental right for citizens under the constitution. It opens the door to the decriminalization of homosexual relationships.
A bench of five judges on the country’s highest court delivered a unanimous verdict in which they described section 377 as "arbitrary".
Their judgment recognizes that the law has always led to tragedies and that it must be remedied.
They also said that individual constitutional rights should be considered supreme and that privacy is part of the fundamental right to privacy. In short, everyone is free to do what they want.
The only female judge of the highest court, Indu Malhotra, even said that history owed an apology to those persecuted by the law.
She added that this judgment would be taken into account in all future prosecutions.
Now that same-sex relationships are no longer a crime, LGBTQ people will be able to fight for recognition.
Sunil Mehra, a petitioner against Article 377, said: “If equality of LGBTQ persons is now a fundamental right, then right to marry, bequeath property, share insurance (medical and life) are all part of this. We are asking for rights respect and dignity and it is unconstitutional and impudent to deny that. I am astounded at people who say that we cannot get these rights.”
It won't be easy. In India, homosexuality is still considered by a large part of the population as a disease.
Indian government immediately stated that it would oppose any attempts to legalize marriage equality.
An anonymous government functionary said, “Decriminalisation of same-sex acts was fine but the government would oppose any demand to legalize same-sex marriage.”
While waiting for future battles, congratulations to our LGBT Indian friends for this great victory!
Photo from istock