Petition claims section 377 of Indian Penal Code deprives LGBTQ persons of equality before law, freedom of expression and right to dignity.
Ashok Row Kavi, who was the first gay man to publicly come out in 1984, has approached the Supreme Court of India, along with three other gay men and The Humsafar Trust, to decriminalise same sex relations.
The petition has claimed that section 377 of the Indian Penal Code deprives LGBTQ persons of equality before law, freedom of expression, personal autonomy and right to dignity in direct violation of Articles 14, 15, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
The petition has urged the apex court to restrain the authorities from enforcing section 377 with regard to consensual, sexual conduct between adults in private.
A Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Dipak Mishra, Justices D Y Chandrachud and A M Khanwilkar on Tuesday May 1, issued notice to the Union government and asked it to respond with its view on the petition.
Speaking about it, Ashok Row Kavi, founder chairperson of The humsafar Trust said, “I have been fortunate in being able to come out of the closet, but have personally witnessed the humiliation that LGBTQI people face and the detrimental emotional impact criminalization and stigma has on them. More than anything else I have witnessed the negative, impact of the law under Section 377, IPC on the lives of LGBTQI persons, particularly gay men and transgender persons, both physically and emotionally, as a result of which they live double lives.”
He further added, “The criminalization of their core being has devastating impact on their psyche. The Humsafar Trust was primarily set up to empower LGBTQI communities to overcome the stigmatization resulting from the law and has been working on these issues for the past 24 years. Therefore it is my strong belief that IPC Sec 377 must exclude consensual, sexual conduct between adults.”
The others who have filed the petition along with him are Vivek Anand, CEO of The Humsafar Trust, Gautam Yadav, who handles crisis management cases and advocacy efforts on sexuality and HIV and Yashwinder Singh, who works in HIV/AIDS related healthcare programs with homosexual men and transgender persons at HST.
Section 377 of IPC used to harass, extort and blackmail