Hours after the Supreme Court set aside the 2009 Delhi High Court judgement which struck down a provision of Section 377 which criminalised consensual act among homosexuals, large groups of members and supporters of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community protested in front of the Town Hall here.

Protesters included activists and students, who shouted slogans for over two hours against the Supreme Court verdict in the matter. Emotions ran high as they shouted slogans against a system that terms them criminals. Among the crowd were families, who had come to support their children.

Savitha (32), a transgender from Magadi, said that it was “heart-breaking” that the very institution that people turn to to address transgressions of human rights, had failed to see this issue from a human rights perspective. “The Delhi High Court judgement gave us a sense of dignity. When we faced police harassment, those who were more aware among us told them that we had the law on our side. What happens now?” Ranjitha, a transgender, echoed this when she said that increased awareness on this law has also meant that now, with the striking down being repealed, things could get worse for them.

Patriarchy and power

Also among the protestors was a female priest and feminist theologian from the United Theological College Evangeline Rajkumar. When asked why religious groups had come together to appeal the Delhi HC verdict, she said: “What their coming together shows is that patriarchy and the quest for abusive power can bring people together. That brings us to the question, who really represents a religious group. As a Christian priest myself, I feel it is time for us to listen to the people and recognise these patterns of exploitation.”

The protest saw participation from several groups including the Alternative Law Forum, Samara, Praja Rajakiye Vedike and the Karnataka Sex Workers’ Union. But, among the crowd were also many who identified themselves as “first timers” to a protest around this cause. Shiv Kakanoor, a bank employee, said that he came to show solidarity with his lesbian colleague. “This is clearly a violation of her rights as a human and a citizen of this country,” he said. Gurjot Singh, a research scientist at the Indian Institute of Science, said he sought out this gathering when he read the news online this morning. “I have great respect for the Supreme Court and faith in it being the last bastion or refuge for justice. But this judgement has been deeply disappointing,” he said.