Press Release: Delhi High Court Begins Section 377 Hearing

From the Queer Media Collective:

Final arguments have begun in the Delhi High Court on the petition seeking decriminalisation of homosexuality in India by reading down of Section 377 IPC to exclude private sexual acts between consenting adults.

The petition was first filed in 2001 by Naz Foundation (India) Trust, an NGO working on HIV/AIDS, but it was rejected in 2004 by the Delhi High Court, on grounds that the petitioner has no locus standi. Naz appealed to the Supreme Court which remanded the case back to the Delhi High Court, saying that it was an important matter that had to be heard expeditiously. This is the case that has started final arguments today.

The case now positions petitions from Naz India, along with Voices Against 377, a group lobbying for change in the law on human rights grounds, against the government, Joint Action Committee, Kannur, a NGO that opposes all HIV/AIDS prevention efforts and V.P.Singhal, who is opposing on grounds of traditional morality.

The case now positions petitions from Naz India, along with Voices Against 377, a group lobbying for change in the law on grounds of human rights of sexual minorites including gay people, hijras and kothis, against the government, Joint Action Committee, Kannur, an NGO that opposes all HIV/AIDS prevention efforts and V.P.Singhal, who is opposing on grounds of traditional morality.

But there is a contradiction in the government's approach. While the petition is opposed by the Home Ministry, on the grounds that changing 377 will open the floodgates of delinquent behaviour, the Health Ministry acting through the National AIDS Control Organisation, is supporting the petition. In the days to come it will be seen how the government will makes its case despite the inherent contradictions in two of its affidavits.

The court directed all parties to argue in turn, with the case being heard daily from today onwards. Advocate Anand Grover started off the arguments today on behalf of original petitioners Naz India. The next hearing is on Wednesday.

With today's developments, a matter directly impacting the fundamental rights to life, health, privacy and free speech and expression of a wide section of Indians.

The Queer Media Collective (QMC) is a group of professional journalists who aim for a more balanced treatment of gay, lesbian and other queer issues in the Indian media and entertainment industries.

For more information, please contact:
Lesley A. Esteves (Voices Against 377): lesley.esteves[AT]gmail[DOT]com
Aniruddh Vasudevan (Shakti Center): aniruddh.vasudevan[AT]gmail[DOT]com

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Comments

Lest we get on our high

Lest we get on our high western horses, let’s just remember that even though Cali came through for us last week, Texas (where I used to teach) still has antisodomy laws on the books. Glad to see that India is addressing national legislation, even if our poorbackwardswestern governing bodies are not.

It's often used in Orientalist and neo-Orientalist arguments, but it doesn't have to be. There are myriad abuses in Indian society(societies?) against LGBT people. The least that could be done (and I do mean least) is for the courts to at least perform their 'educative' role in setting state ideology by striking down the (British imposed) ban on same-sex marriage.

“Finally, you can’t blame

“Finally, you can’t blame colonialism for everything ”

-Funny,many tradtional Indians often blame the west for homsexuality and other vices like dating and pre-marital sex.

My issue with IPC377 is that

My issue with IPC377 is that while countries like Egypt, Iran, and even Pakistan criminalize homosexuality, they have a concrete basis to support their conviction (most often via the Sharia). In the case of India, the criminalization of homosexuality is an artifact of British colonialism. Now, I understand the complexities colonialism induced on Indian culture; however it blows my mind how people can cling on to IPC377 and spew rubbish of how homosexuality is a Western consequence. If anything, the heterosexism permeating the subcontinent is the real Western disease.

In a nation that values (or at least says it values) diversity, why should sexual diversity be any different?

This is really unfair. First of all, at least in South Asia, Muslim law was interfered with and reinterpreted by the British state as much as Hindu, Parsi, Christian, and general law was. Secondly, Muslim law has a variety of schools and differs widely from state to state (e.g. Tunisia banned polygamy, Syria attaches financial obligations to it, while it is legal in Pakistan and India with certain conditions). Finally, you can't blame colonialism for everything -- it's been 60 years - if it was ONLY a colonial artefact with no responsibility from present day Indians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Americans, British, and everyone else that supports heteronormativity, it would have been long gone (the way that the industrial polciy changed within 9 years of independence ;)

Now i appreciate khargosh's point more about orientalism or, in this case, indian nationalism, or other agendas mixing in with this debate.

Well there is some bad news

Well there is some bad news on the front, the Delhi High Court has postponed the trial until July. It seems that the justices have a well-opportune court vacation and will be hear the remainder of the case six weeks later.

My issue with IPC377 is that while countries like Egypt, Iran, and even Pakistan criminalize homosexuality, they have a concrete basis to support their conviction (most often via the Sharia). In the case of India, the criminalization of homosexuality is an artifact of British colonialism. Now, I understand the complexities colonialism induced on Indian culture; however it blows my mind how people can cling on to IPC377 and spew rubbish of how homosexuality is a Western consequence. If anything, the heterosexism permeating the subcontinent is the real Western disease.

In a nation that values (or at least says it values) diversity, why should sexual diversity be any different?

"Finally, you can’t blame

"Finally, you can’t blame colonialism for everything " - Hail to the chief, this line I agree with!

Lest we get on our high

Lest we get on our high western horses, let's just remember that even though Cali came through for us last week, Texas (where I used to teach) still has antisodomy laws on the books. Glad to see that India is addressing national legislation, even if our poorbackwardswestern governing bodies are not.

FINALLY! down with 377!

FINALLY! down with 377!

Just came across this site

Just came across this site (via the facebook group) - just wanted to say its excellent. And yes, so glad to see that India is progressing in the right (or rather left) direction!

Delhi High Court's announcing

Delhi High Court's announcing July 2nd as the date for the next hearing is not exactly bad news. The court goes on vacation this week anyway. Also, the hearings have been going well and the time-line for all parties and respondents to present arguments was discussed. I will post the release that we circulated after the hearing on 21 May.

Funny,many tradtional Indians

Funny,many tradtional Indians often blame the west for homsexuality and other vices like dating and pre-marital sex.

Yeah and I blame the west for concepts like "traditional Indians" but it's time to move on on this issue. Of COURSE the british were responsible for gender construction, sexuality construction, the legal basis of the current state, identity construction, the partition that turned the opportunity for potential social revolution into territorially institutionalized regional religious and sectarian violence instead, the class structure at independence, etc. That doesn't mean that Indian homophobes are not jackasses, or that people today (and in 1947
) are without agency :) Blaming the West for either accepted homosexuality or homophobia is like blaming the British for capitalism - it might be true to varying extents but its not really helpful in figuring out what to do now, and it allows a lot of "Traditional indians" unfairly off the hook for tapping into exactly the wrong cultural and social baggage. If Indian homophobes are jackasses then let those of us who are sympathetic to Indians as a whole say so.

Delhi High Court’s announcing

Delhi High Court’s announcing July 2nd as the date for the next hearing is not exactly bad news. The court goes on vacation this week anyway. Also, the hearings have been going well and the time-line for all parties and respondents to present arguments was discussed. I will post the release that we circulated after the hearing on 21 May.

It just sucks because the Delhi High Court has been dragging this on for so long. Having such a long break in the middle of the argument will definitely not help our case.

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