South Asian LGBT group links ‘third gender’ ruling to 377 issue

April 16, 2014 04:08 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:14 pm IST - Washington

Following the Indian Supreme Court’s ruling on Tuesday to create a ‘third gender’ for transgendered individuals rather than forcing them to write ‘male’ or ‘female’ in official papers, the South Asian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community here has called upon the Court to reconsider its December 11 2013 ruling on Section 377, which criminalises homosexual sex.

In a statement Khush DC, a South Asian LGBT social, support, and political group said, “We hope that the Court will use precisely the reasoning it endorsed today to reverse its recent ruling and finally strike down the Indian Penal Code's Section 377, which criminalises homosexual sex and has been used to persecute transgender Indians and other sexual minorities for over a century.”

In an email to The Hindu Khush DC President Sapna Pandya emphasised that it was impossible to empower and protect transgender Indians while declaring the sexuality of so many of them to be criminal.

The LGBT community here also cautioned that while the latest Supreme Court ruling was “critical and just”, much work remained including, firstly, for jurisprudential experts to derive a precise understanding of the ruling and its impact on both gender and sexual minorities in India, so that activists could advocate for the strongest and clearest protections possible for transgender Indians.

Secondly, they hoped that the Indian government would make it a priority to enact accessible laws that will actually empower and protect India's transgender communities “not just on paper, but in all spheres of life.”

In recent months the South Asian LGBT community here has expressed deep concern for the welfare of their counterparts in India, owing to the Section 377 ruling, a colonial-era law that has been described as “draconian”.

In a series of candlelight rallies here to symbolically suggest that it “demonstrates the degree to which India is still in the dark,” including at least one rally outside the Indian embassy in December, Khush DC and other community networks groups protested the use of Section 377 to “harass, silence, and imprison the LGBTQ community in the country”.

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