It had been barely twenty-four hours after International Human Rights Day when the Supreme Court of India overturned a 2009 ruling by the Delhi High Court, declaring homosexual intercourse between consenting adults a criminal act.
In this upsetting judgment, the Supreme Court decided that the old law from 2009 was not constitutionally valid. This reinstated law – known as Section 377 – is a huge blow to the LGBTQIA Rights movement in India, which had picked up enormous momentum in the past several years. This law is a relic from an 1861 British Colonial ruling and echoes the standards of British morality of that time – not Indian tradition.
At a rally at the Indian Consulate in New York City yesterday, dozens of people from the South Asian LGBTQIA community gathered to march, chant and dance to express their frustration and discontent towards the Supreme Court’s decision. Chants such as “Hey, hey – ho, ho – 377 has got to go!” and “We’re Queer! We’re Here! Get Used to It!” were shouted, along with a Gujarati chant which translated to “Love is Love.” Activist and musician Sonny Singh from the band Red Baraat brought his dhol (Indian drum), which added great energy to the gathering. There were speeches by LGBTQIA activists from India, straight allies, and non-Indian allies as well. The rally ended with the group singing a moving version of “We Shall Overcome” in both Hindi and English.
There is obviously a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done to achieve equality for the LGBTQIA community – both in India and the rest of the world. With its ruling, the Supreme Court of India revealed that it does not feel its job is to protect the fundamental rights of its citizens, forcing many Queer people back into the shadows.
According to a public opinion poll online, hosted by one of the leading National Indian Newspapers, The Hindustan Times, 86% of people do not agree with the Supreme Court decision. While this barbaric ruling has taken away the rights of many people in India, the deluge of support is encouraging and inspiring. They cannot take away the dignity of the people and the fight for equality.
About the author: Chand is an ‘Individual Activist’ with experience in the Womyn’s Rights, Queer Rights and Tibetan Freedom Movements. She is currently getting her Master’s in Socio-Political Media Ethnography at New York University. Follow her on twitter @radicaldesi.