The voice of support for the LGBT community reverberates across the virtual world too as the SC verdict on gay sex is out

The LGBT groups and their supporters whose impressive numbers you were not aware of erupted in disappointment, anger and frustration on a day they had earmarked for nationwide celebration. Protests sparked across the nation when the Supreme Court reinstated the ban on gay sex — ironically in the world’s largest democracy with well-defined sections on human rights in its written constitution. Overturning the landmark 2009 decision of the Delhi High Court that made homosexuality non-criminal, the judges have asked the Parliament to deal with the archaic Section 377 of IPC. Gays could once again face persecution — people found guilty of violating Section 377 could face 10 years in prison.

Here are a few statements from the ruling: HC-Delhi does not adequately show how the section violates the right to privacy, the judges said. [Only a] minuscule fraction of the country’s population constitutes LGBT (so?), the HC is not at all right in observing that Section 377 IPC obstructs self-esteem [of LGBT].

Call for equality

Ripples of astonishment have been felt the world over. “We oppose any action that criminalises consensual same-sex conduct between adults. LGBT rights are human rights. We call on all governments to advance equality for LGBT individuals around the world,” says a State Department spokesperson. “No one should have to go to jail because of who they are or who they love,” says Joe Mirabella, All Out.

Slogans such as “It is a fight for the fundamental rights of all” and “Will Parliament Step In?” are heard from students and other supporters from campuses. “The government is trying to put us back in the closet, but that will never happen,” says Suresh, Chennai Dost. At a rally by Chennai Rainbow Coalition, the masks were back. “It has always been difficult for women to come out. Now it is tougher,” said one with a dupatta covering her face.

A hopeful note

“Community members will be hounded across neighbourhoods, public places and roads,” fears activist Pawan Dhall. The only hopeful note comes from Manvendra Singh Gohil, the royal face of gay rights in India. “Several parliamentarians have supported us,” he says. But “Gagged and betrayed” was the overall theme. “Bad day for law and love,” says author Vikram Seth.

Action against it has been flagged-off — unsurprisingly, on Facebook. Go “Gay For A Day” exhorts Tanmay Sahay as a rainbow flag almost flutters in your face. “All you have to do is change your profile picture to one in which you are kissing someone from your gender in protest of the Supreme Court of India’s ruling that criminalises homosexuality,” he asks you. “And at this very difficult time, we must support our friends and family and fellow citizens for their right to express their sexuality.” On the side are lists of those Going (1,220), Maybe (90), Invited (15,280).

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