India has just abolished section 377 – a law that made gay sex illegal, and it’s a huge triumph for the nations LGBTQ+ community.
The 157-year-old law criminalising gay sex was decided, after 24 years of legal struggles, to be discriminatory and unconstitutional. Previously to the law being abolished, the LGBT community faced life in prison for partaking in sex that went ‘against the law of nature’. Basically, gay people couldn’t engage in any sort of sexual relations with their partners – or report any abuse, for fear of being ousted and thrown into jail.
This new law has closed the door on a dark part of history during which the LGBT+ community had little to no rights, in a unanimous decision made by India’s 5 judge supreme court. Some of the judges even made a public apology for the long wait in securing LGBT+ rights and safety.
Although the law relates specifically to sexual relations, many campaigners have highlighted why the day is about so much more: it marks an era where gay people in India no longer have to hide who they are, or live in fear of imprisonment once they come out to the public. Other campaigners have celebrated the end of a colonial law restricting LGBT+ rights, celebrating ‘India decolonising’.
The fight for the true acceptance and rights of LGBT+ is only just beginning in India, but at the very least, they don’t have to feel like criminals for being themselves.