‘Second Independence Day’: Kerala’s LGBT community welcomes Supreme Court verdict on Section 377
The LGBT community in Kerala, the first state to formulate a transgender policy three years ago, hailed the Supreme Court’s verdict scrapping the colonial-era ban on gay sex on Thursday and took out victory processions in many parts of the state including Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi.
“We got independence on Thursday. It is a historic verdict. It is our second independence day. Hope the government and society realise the spirit of the judgment and change their attitude towards sexual minorities,” said the state’s first trans-couple Ishan and Surya.
Small-time businessman Ishan and Surya, an activist and television anchor, had tied the knot under the special marriages act in May last year. Their marriage was held with much pomp and glitter.
The top court said gay sex among consenting adults is not an offence after hearing a batch of petitions challenging the Constitutional validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises homosexuality. In four separate but concurring verdicts, the five judges of the top court ruled that the section failed to make a distinction between consensual and non-consensual acts.
Experts and intellectuals also welcomed the ruling.
“The verdict gives some hope that democratic ideals are still strong in the country. Everyone should take it positively and uplift the people who were neglected for long,” said noted writer Paul Zacharia. “It is a remarkable verdict. Hope this will help bring the LGBT community to the mainstream,” senior political analyst BRP Bhaskar said.
Kerala was the first state to formulate a transgender policy aimed at ending discrimination and bring them to the mainstream. Two years ago it set up a transgender justice board to deal with their complaints and a separate column called “third sex” was introduced in the birth and death registration forms.
It was also made mandatory for all government buildings to have separate washrooms for the third sex. According to the transgender board, there are at least 35,000 third sex and transsexual persons in the state. Despite the best foot forward, activists working in the area say more is required to bring them into the mainstream.