Today marks the 2nd anniversary of the reading down of Section 377 in India, but the fight for equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and particularly transgender individuals has barely begun. While the Delhi High Court decriminalized sodomy between consenting adults in private two years ago, conservative groups have appealed the decision in the Supreme Court of India, and oral arguments for the appeal are scheduled to begin on July 11th. LGBTI advocates are hopeful that the Delhi High Court ruling will be upheld, but until the Supreme Court issues a decision, nothing is certain. And even if the Supreme Court does uphold the High Court’s decision, it will simply be decriminalizing certain sexual acts.
As a comparison, eight years after the United States Supreme Court finally decriminalized sodomy in all 50 states and US territories in the landmark case Lawrence v. Texas, LGBTI individuals are still fighting to enjoy the same rights as other US citizens. 10 states plus the District of Columbia (and hopefully soon Rhode Island) issue same sex marriage or civil union licenses. In other words, only in 1 of 5 states can homosexual couples enter into marriage or a similar union, something that traditional heterosexual couples can enter into or end at almost any time. Numerous other obstacles for LGBTI individuals also still exist, including issues with obtaining and using the same identification documents as other citizens, getting access to health care, and obtaining and guaranteeing child custody.
This post is not meant to rain on the parade (literally and figuratively) of the queer community in India, because this is a day for celebration. However, it is important to remember that this incredible achievement is just the first step in ensuring that LGBTI individuals enjoy the same human rights that are guaranteed to all citizens under the Constitution of India.
Posted By Meredith Williams
Posted Jul 1st, 2011