"Proud!" screamed the status message of Manas Malhotra, a gay rights activist, minutes after the Delhi High Court gave its historic judgment of decriminalising homosexuality Thursday.
"Yay! I can't believe this is actually happening. We were all prepared to hear the worst-and this... this has not yet sunk in," Malhotra told IANS, his voice breaking.
Reading down the archaic section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which says that homosexuality and "unnatural sex" are criminal acts, a bench of Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice S Muralidhar said that if not amended, section 377 would violate Article 21 of the Indian constitution, which states that every citizen has equal opportunity of life and is equal before law.
In plain terms, what this judgement means is that police will no longer be able to intrude or pick up people -- adults to be specific -- having consensual sex.
Malhotra, who was one of the organisers of the gay pride march in Delhi last year and this year, said that he was up through most of the night, keeping his fingers crossed and hoping for the best.
"You know all these years I have been given that strange look and have been made to feel like a criminal -- for what, for living my life by my terms? Today's verdict has been absolutely heart-warming, especially when the court said for the first time that it is our fundamental right to live the way we want," he said.
As the historic judgment was announced, the premises of the Delhi High Court were washed with rainbow colours, as members of the gay community -- all dressed in colourful attire, their faces painted or wearing masks- rejoiced, waving posters like "Queer and proud" and "Legal homosexual".
One poster read: "Accept, appreciate differences." Yet another said proudly: "I am the pink sheep of the family."
Raman, another gay rights activist said: "This is surely a good beginning. This has been a fight for equal rights and today's decision is a ray of hope".
Just four days ago, the capital saw the second edition of the gay pride march in which hundreds of people from the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gender community took to the roads demanding repeal of section 377 through slogans, colourful posters, songs and dance.
An overwhelmed Anjali Gopalan of the Naz Foundation, the voluntary organisation, that filed the petition in the High Court said: "I still can't believe this is actually happening. It is definitely very progressive and I have to say, our faith in the judiciary has just been renewed to 100 per cent".
"What is heartening is that the court quoted Nehru who stressed so much on equality and inclusiveness. I just feel so proud to be an Indian," she beamed.
Indira Jai Singh, a senior lawyer added: "Adults cannot be denied this right as it would be against their fundamental right of equality".
The community is now all set to celebrate in a big way. On Thursday afternoon the community plans to take on the roads near Jantar Mantar to rejoice the verdict.