Languages
Page last updated at 05:55 GMT, Friday, 3 July 2009 06:55 UK

Activists welcome India gay ruling

Gay rights activists in India say a ruling by the Delhi High Court decriminalising homosexuality in the country is a landmark. The judgement overturns a 149-year-old colonial law which described a same-sex relationship as an "unnatural offence".

VIKRAM DOCTOR, WRITER AND GAY RIGHTS ACTIVIST

The ruling is a huge step forward. It is fantastic. I hope the government of India accepts the Delhi High Court decision. It has been an eight-year battle and I am glad it came through.

In one way it changes nothing - there are many gay couples in India anyway. In another way, it changes everything.

Till now we were considered to be criminals. If a gay couple wanted to buy a house together, it was not possible. No financial institute would even consider them.

Participants in a gay march in India
Rights groups have long campaigned for a repeal of the law

I am not saying they can do this now but now we can start fighting.

There are gangs who target gays as they would not go to a police station for the fear of being booked themselves. Even some policemen are part of these gangs.

In Lucknow there has been an incident where even social activists working with MSMs (Men having Sex with Men) for HIV prevention have been detained by the police. And these incidents happen everywhere.

NITIN KARANI, GAY RIGHTS ACTIVIST

For me, most importantly people who are afraid to come forward will be able to do so. It is very difficult to reach out to HIV-positive people.

Also families who use this section to scare their children and get them married forcibly won't be able to do so.

This ruling will contribute in making society's attitude more positive. Cases of police harassment may reduce. I have seen people driven to suicide. I hope this decision gives more confidence to gay people to come out, be less afraid.

ADITYA BANDYOPADHYAY, LAWYER AND GAY RIGHTS ACTIVIST

We are elated. It's a path-breaking judgement. It's a historic judgement, it's India's Stonewall.

I think what now happens is that a lot of our fundamental rights and civic rights which were denied to us can now be reclaimed by us.

The government has so far been pandering to narrow parochial groups, religious groups but the court order shows that India is ruled by constitutional laws and not by vote-bank politics.

It's a fabulously written judgement, and it restores our faith in judiciary.

ANJALI GOPALAN, NAZ FOUNDATION WORKING ON HIV PREVENTION

We have finally entered the 21st Century. The government can't ignore this.

GAUTAM BHAN, GAY RIGHTS ACTIVIST

This is a long-awaited and incredible judgement.

The judges in their verdict spoke about inclusivity, equality and dignity. They spoke about a vision of India as an open, tolerant society and to hear all this from the Delhi High Court was amazing.

SCOTT LONG, TRANSGENDER RIGHTS PROGRAM, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

This legal remnant of British colonialism has been used to deprive people of their basic rights for too long.

This long-awaited decision testifies to the reach of democracy and rights in India.

British colonisers introduced Section 377 to India in 1860. It became a model for similar sodomy laws imposed on other British colonies, and comparable provisions survive today from Singapore to Uganda.

Most of the world's sodomy laws are relics of colonialism. As the world's largest democracy, India has shown the way for other countries to rid themselves of these repressive burdens.

CELINA JAITLEY, BOLLYWOOD ACTRESS

I'm overwhelmed. It's great not to be criminalised for being a human being and what you do in your bedroom.

WENDELL RODRICKS, FASHION DESIGNER

It is a historic moment for all of India. It has been a long fight. Now, one is not a criminal when anyway one was not in the first place.

It is a move in the right direction and I would go further to say that India is not a religion-run state and this decision is restoring dignity to a community that has been fighting for a long time.

ONIR BASU, FILMMAKER

It is an important decision, a step in the right direction.

When I was making my film My brother Nikhil (a film with a gay couple as protagonists), no one was willing to finance us. No big star was ready to be part of it. People used to ask why I would want to get slotted.

The ruling is good for prevention of HIV. Whenever something is hidden people do not get to know. The disease spreads because no one talks about it.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Fear and loathing in gay India
17 May 05 |  South Asia
Anger at 'shameful' India gay law
11 Jan 06 |  South Asia
Smashing India's sexual taboos
29 Oct 02 |  Entertainment
Gay couple hold Hindu wedding
29 May 01 |  South Asia

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific