New Delhi, Sep 6: With the Supreme Court set to pronounce its verdict on the legality of Section 377 of the IPC, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community awaits with bated breath.
The community has been waiting for this verdict for a long after the matter took several twists and turns in the recent years. In 2009, Delhi's High Court abolished Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises gay sex. But that verdict was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2013.
When the Delhi HC had abolished the contentious colonial era rule, the LGBT community was jubiliant and celebrations broke out across India. When the verdict was overturned, the community again took to streets, but this time for demanding justice.
LGBT community members participating in 'National Coming Out Day' (File photo)
In recent years, more than 30 cities have held their first gay pride parades. The LGBT community and their demand rights has gathered the attention of the people in a society where same sex reletions are not easily accepted. Gay stereotypes are being challenged in film and mass culture, with a handful of recent Bollywood films showing gay characters not just as caricatures or comedy figures, but as layered protagonists or supporting actors.
LGBT community along with their supporters take part in Chennai Rainbow Pride walk
The movement against Section 377 began in the early 1990s after NGOs and health workers alleged the law was used against them and hampered work in preventing HIV/AIDS. The first petition was filed in the Delhi high court in 2001 as activists said the power of the law extended far beyond formal arrests - it helped create an atmosphere conducive to extortion, blackmail and abuse that often led to suicide. Some activists hope the judgment, if it goes in their favour, will helped push the boundaries of LGBT rights.
LGBT community members at Qeer Pride Parade in Ahmedabad
About 2.5 million Indians identify as gay, according to government figures from 2012. But this data only takes into account those who have declared their sexuality to the health ministry.
Chennai Rainbow Pride walk to mark the 10th year celebrations
The Supreme Court will pronounce its verdict on the legality of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code on Thursday. The court would decide whether the section that criminalised sexual relations between same gender adults would be valid or not. During the course of the marathon hearing the SC dropped several hints to suggest that it would de-criminalise Section 377.