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An estimated 5-minute read

365 Days without 377

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We’re fast approaching the 2nd of July : the date of the Naz Foundation judgment. You know the one, the one with the operative paragraph that went something like this :

We declare that Section 377 IPC, insofar it criminalises consensual sexual acts of adults in private, is violative of Articles 21, 14 and 15 of the Constitution.

I look back at how a 105 page document has affected my life over the last year.

The Day of the Judgment

Class hour. I feel the buzz of a new message on my phone, but I can’t check it just yet. I know what it should be about, of course. Today is the day, and it’s 10.45 AM, Court’s open, and yes, I know what it’s about alright . And if I check it now, things change. As long as I don’t look, I can revel in this glorious uncertainty. I hold on to the moment. And then it buzzes again. Another message. And again. 4 more. Nerves get the better of me, and I excuse myself from the room, run out and check my phone. Half-crazed smile on my face as I walk in tells my friends what they need to know. I hear a whoop of joy from across the room, even as the professor stops writing. A call now, and I run back out to receive it. It’s a friend from Delhi, who’s just stepped out of the courtroom. 5 minutes later when I walk back into the class again, the news had been relayed all round. There is spontaneous applause, my manic grin continues unbroken, and the Professor enquires about the cause of commotion. “377 ‘s been struck down sir !” mis-answers someone : but I am not going to point out legal nuances at this moment. He gets the point. The Professor gives his congratulations to the “concerned parties” even as the applause gives way to excited chatter.

This moment is real. This moment is happening.


The Day After

24 hours have passed, and I’m sitting in the library. My head buzzes with emotion, thoughts, ideas. I have just sent mails to the people I know concerned with the case – furiously proud, gushing emails. I wear the shirt I wore at the Bangalore pride – “Closets are for Clothes” it VIBGYORs out. The channels are saturated with interviews, debates. I walk into the common room of the hostel at night to the sight of half my batch sitting around the screen caught up in one of these. Another familiar face flashes on screen.

This moment is real.


The Month After

We’re discussing the judgment. In class. AGAIN.

Someone groans from a corner, as, for the umpteenth time, the jurisprudential- soundness-of-the analogous-grounds-extension-point is discussed. I catch myself grinning. I think of reading about places, times, too many to start, where the mention of the subject is taboo. So many in this country, perhaps still in the overwhelming majority, where it continues to be. And yet here, in this classroom, generally vocal gay boy that I might be, I still feel Naz-discussion-fatigue. We’ve spoken so much about LGBT rights that we’ve finally placed them on the same pedestal as everything eventually gets to in law school – boring. This is progress !


6 Months After

The newly founded NALSAR Gender and Sexuality Forum has its inaugural meeting. The “jurisdiction of Delhi High Court judgment over the rest of the country” argument has long been forgotten; as the meeting starts, the unchallenged proclamation is made that homosexuality stands decriminalized in India. A large group of people has gathered for this first meet – too large, infact, to see the same numbers turn up for the next. Nevermind though, it remains a fact that we have this forum at all, and that’s going to be good enough for me.


8 Months After

The first signs of backlash are amusing. “Have you heard of AAG ?” asks a friend at breakfast. Turns out she didn’t mean the atrocious Ram Gopal Verma remake. “It stands for Abhorrently Anti-Gay”. That gets my attention. Almost. Turns out our Forum has riled up enough momentum to pluck at the heartstrings of the more homophobic at college : AAG comes as a rejoinder to the “pro-gay propaganda of the Gender and Sexuality Forum meetings”. Particularly amusing is the idea of the Forum as a recruiting ground for “more of them”. AAG eventually burns out - the founding members graduate, with no one taking up the mantle. Even as the smoke clears, the Forum prepares for its next meeting.


Is the 8th of June.

Soon, a year will have passed since the judgment. Voices of change within the walls of my college walk in tandem with whispers of change outside. At home, we deal with it by, well, not dealing with it. The walls of my bookshelf are stacked with gay literature, my mother looks at them wordlessly as I rearrange my books. Soon, we will have the conversation. I feel a surge of confidence with every new positive image that plays on the television when we’re both watching. I wonder if she has passed the stage of a passive onlooker, whether every news item for her carries a glimmer of something more, some personal stake which she has yet to fully acknowledge.

My father types away furiously at his laptop on the other end of the room. Do his ears occasionally prick up at the mention of some permutation of “LGBT” in the news too ? Its been more than a year since I received a forced-casual call from him, asking about this “academic piece on homosexuals you wrote which I just found online”. I registered his emphasis on the word “academic”; it was almost like a plea – let it just be academic interest.




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