India got its independence on 15 august 1947 but there was a section of society that had to wait for roughly eight more decades to get the basic independence to love and live with dignity. Approximately eighty seven years before our independence and 160 years ago from now a law was passed in the British ruled India – a law that led to a historic movement, a historic fight and many tragic stories with a happy ending- section 377.
This law stated that “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.”
It was passed to criminalize unnatural intercourse but it actually criminalized a section of humans by taking away their right to love and taking away their right of living with dignity.
For several decades post independence no one raised their voice against it, maybe because no one was aware about the torture this section had to face, maybe ignorance or maybe because it just wasn’t affecting them – making it none of their business.
They were ignored, tortured, forced to live in a hiding, forced to live in a constant fear in their very own democratic independent country. They were literally rejected from everywhere, from their families, from the society and of course even our law had criminalized them.
For so long section 377 was used to torture them, extort them. Imagine being arrested just because you are in love – simply inhumane.
With so many horrifying stories of police officers beating, raping and torturing them , girls being forced into bed with their relatives just for the sake of “converting them” , forced marriage , psychological torture by their families and the society even electrolouting or killing them for just being them. Police brutality, psychological torture, physical torture, to even rape and murders, you name it and they had to face it .
But the wave of change was coming , wave of movements, courage to fight, courage to live .
Naz foundation in 2002 filed a PIL in delhi high court against section 377 and on 2 July 2009, the High Court of Delhi struck down much of section 377 of the IPC as being unconstitutional in its landmark judgement but this was not the end, infact this section of our society had to wait for almost one more decade to get the justice they deserved as on december 2013 supreme court upheld the constitutionality of Section 377 that is it upheld the historic verdict of Delhi high court .
Issue was raised in parliament, to decriminalize section 377 but to no use.
But On 6 September 2018, the Supreme Court struck down the part of section 377, a British-era provision, criminalising consensual homosexual activities with all the six judges on the bench favoring the judgement On the beautiful day of 6 September 2018 love was not a crime anymore, justice was served , victory was there
But this victory is a small part of a long battle ahead because even in this article we had to mention them as a different section, we had to segregate them just to tell their story, so the day when we don’t have to refer to them as them, the day when we and them becomes us is the day we as a society will emerge victorious of this long battle
This article is written by Vaibhavi Mishra and edited by Rupreet Kaur Dhariwal.