CHENNAI: The Supreme Court’s decision to scrap the ‘archaic’ and ‘regressive’ Section 377 in a historic verdict on Thursday had the members of LGBTQ community in the city overjoyed and overwhelmed.
People from the community expressed their joy, relief and even disbelief upon the announcement of the top court’s verdict.
Lauding the decision, many said that they were able to “breathe again” and “felt free.” “I never thought this would happen in my lifetime,” said Harish Subramanian, a member of the community. “When I found out about the verdict, I did not know how to react. I was so overwhelmed that I started crying... I am still in a daze because this is the win we were looking for.”
Echoing this sentiment was Jabez Kelly, Chennai’s first drag queen. “Every single time a verdict like this comes our way, it shows that we are moving a step ahead,” Kelly said. “I woke up to this mind-boggling news and I was numb. It has been such a long, tumultuous journey to get here which is why it has not sunk in yet.”
For Sankari, a transwoman working for the NGO Nirangal it was a day for revelry. “I am ecstatic,” she said. “We finally have the freedom to live in our country without any conditions. Earlier there was always a looming fear that we could get caught because of Section 377, but not anymore.”
While social media timelines were flooded with rainbows and hashtags like ‘Bye bye 377’ and ‘Love Wins,’ members of the community warned that though this was a landmark verdict, there was a lot that needed to be done on the ground to ensure the stigma attached to the community fades away. Some of this stigmatisation was visible online.
“It is essential for people to be sensitised to the community,” said Subramanian. “People keep saying Section 377 is about gay sex. No! It jeopardized our right to love... We have a very long road ahead because there is so much misinformation and ignorance about the community. The verdict is certainly a win, but it is the beginning of a long journey.”