Delhi High Court had repealed the law in 2009

Tired of meeting in “dark rooms and online”, members of India’s first and only LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community held a meeting on Thursday and decided to appeal against the Supreme Court’s order re-criminalising Section 377.

According to the provision in the Indian Penal Code, sexual acts “against the order of nature” are banned.

“Antithesis of equality”

The Delhi High Court had repealed the law in 2009 saying that “discrimination was the antithesis of equality”. But in 2013, the Supreme Court struck down the High Court verdict, making homosexuality illegal again.

At the second meeting of the LGBT Delhi Professionals Networking Group on Thursday, lawyers who will be filing an appeal in July came up with a plan to fight for the community’s rights.

Menaka Guruswamy, a Supreme Court lawyer who has led the anti-377 appeal in the past, spoke at the meeting about the legal challenge being prepared.

Among the speakers at the event was Emil Wilbekin of the Stonewall Foundation, a United States-based LGBT rights group.

He shared his experience in the fight for equality.

“After the Supreme Court verdict, the LGBT community has had no space to meet. They either meet in dark rooms or online. So we decided to start this group last month,” said group founder Punit Jasuja.

To facilitate interaction

He explained that the group was meant to facilitate interaction between LGBT professionals “away from the context of activism”.

While activism is undoubtedly important for the community, a professional discussion about job-related stresses will help “pull out them out of the closet”, Mr. Jasuja added.

At the meeting on Thursday, 30 members of the community, including lawyers, doctors and designers, discussed everything from Section 377 to their experience of coming out.

“We had people discussing how they deal with their families and bosses. It was the first such platform for some,” Mr. Jasuja added.

Legal battles ahead

As the community gets ready to challenge Section 377, it believes such platforms are essential to prepare it for further legal battles ahead.

“The court said that it is very good that the Naz Foundation was appealing on behalf of the LGBT community, but asked where were the members. So the community has decided to stand up and be counted,” Mr. Jasuja added.

Incidentally, while activists are still keen to broach the subject, not many from the community are comfortable with coming out of the closets and airing their views.

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