Gay activist Manvendra Singh Gohil, 51, is the first member of a royal family to come out of the closet. He is the crown prince of erstwhile princely state Rajpipla in Gujarat. He runs an NGO, The Lakshya Trust, which works with the LGBT community. Here he talks about Section 377, the law which criminalises homosexuality and which the Supreme Court has agreed to re-examine.
First of all, I would like to say that I have always maintained that a case of Section 377 being heard in the court was a dispute of hypocrisy versus humanity.
Today, the Supreme Court has shown that even though hypocrisy exists in Indian society, there are people in our country who think on humanitarian grounds. That is why it is very historic.
In last 68 years of Independent India, this is the fourth curative petition which has been reopened by the Supreme Court. This is a very positive stand even though the court has referred the matter to a larger five-judge bench.
This is a fight for human rights.
One must understand that Section 377 does not just target the homosexual population but also the heterosexual population. The Indian society is not aware of this.
It is a colonial law enacted in the British rule during the reign of Queen Victoria. It talks about penetration in a sexual act which doesn’t result in procreation. That way, under Section 377, oral or anal sex between legally wedded husband and wife in India can be termed illegal.
Therefore, this is not just about the rights of the LGBT community, but about every Indian citizen who has been granted right to privacy under the Indian Constitution.
(As told to Hiral Dave. The views expressed are personal.)