'No more a criminal,' LGBT community erupts with cheer over Section 377 verdict

I participated in the first mass protest for gay rights: Sahni

P.S. Sahni

P.S. Sahni  

One of the first crusaders credits LGBTQ activists for victory

In the sea of exuberant youth celebrating the verdict decriminalising Section 377 and making plans for the future, a senior citizen, P.S. Sahni stood out as for him, it was a victory that was in the making for 26 years.

“I first took to the streets in 1992 to fight for gay rights and I am happy that before I move on, I have seen the day when being homosexual in India is no longer a crime,” says Dr. Sahni, a doctor by profession.

The credit, he says, goes to LGBTQ activists who campaigned relentlessly over the past few years to make the Supreme Court sit up and take note of them. He says he could not achieve the same when he was one of the activists from the AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan (ABVA) that filed a public interest litigation in the Delhi High Court, challenging the constitutional validity of Section 377 which was one of the first legal protests against the repression of the LGBTQ community.

Back in 1992

Getting slightly nostalgic, Dr. Sahni says, “I participated in the first protest for gay rights in the country”. He recounts the slogan that was used in the protest. It was “Gays of the world unite, we have nothing to lose but our chains”, he says with a bit of hesitation as he tried to jog his memory.

“It was in 1992 that 18 people were arrested from the Central Park in Connaught Place on the ground that they were about to indulge in homosexual acts. That arrest sparked of the first mass protest in Delhi at the Police Headquarters in which over 500 people from different walks of life participated and sent out a message to the police not to harass people,” recalls Dr. Sahni.

He says the legal struggle was an uphill task as no LGBTQ person volunteered to be part of the case and for seven years, until the case was dismissed, they were not taken seriously by the court. “I respect the court and the judges of today for coming out with such a verdict. Social change is a slow process and for us, it has taken from 1994 till 2018 to make a change. However, it is good that it has happened and for the courage of the petitioners to personally move the court to ask for their rights.”

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 12:23:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/i-participated-in-the-first-mass-protest-for-gay-rights/article24886830.ece

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