Jun 25, 2020

LGBT is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. This movement is intended to emphasize the diversity of sexuality and gender identity-based cultures. It was not until the 1990s that the LGBT community in the United States gained equal rights. Although this community has seen much controversy regarding universal acceptance of different member groups, the term LGBT has been a positive symbol of inclusion. 

People across the globe from decades have hidden their identities and have refused to accept their sexuality to avoid the discrimination and injustice that they might have to face from such disclosure. All over the world people are tortured for their individual choices related to who they love or who they are. After years of fighting against such injustice, some countries have recognized their rights but still, some countries have ignored to recognize the rights of these people.

One such country was India and after a long battle on 24th August 2017, the Supreme Court gave the country’s LGBT community the freedom to safely express their sexual orientation, and now an individual’s sexual orientation is protected under the garb of Right to Privacy law. The amendments were made in existing laws so that they get their right to live equally and respectfully. On 6th September 2018, India’s Supreme Court finally legalized consensual gay sex by making an amendment in Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 which stated that having intercourse in the same sex as an unnatural offense which was violating the LGBTQ community rights.

The history of the LGBT community goes back to the late 19th century where homosexuality was considered a morbid sexual relationship between people of the same sex. It can be well depicted through images in the walls of many temples and also as described in ancient books. Even in modern times like today, this community fears societal homophobia. The enactment of Section 377 by the British considered homosexual intercourse as something unnatural and inferior and also punished imprisonment for life or with the imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to a fine for the commission of such act. 

The LGBT community has a long legal journey for decriminalizing homosexuality. It started in 1994, where an organization called AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan filed a writ petition in Delhi High Court challenging the constitutional validity of Section 377. It was the first time where legal protests took place against the governmental repression of the LGBTQ community but unfortunately, their petition was dismissed. 

Later, in the Delhi High Court case of Naz Foundation v. Government of NCT of Delhi struck off parts of section 377 and legalized consensual homosexual activities between consulting adults as it was a violation of Article 14, 15 and 21 of the constitution but soon in 2013, the supreme court criminalized the homosexual activities with the reasoning that the plight of sexual minorities cannot be used as an argument to invalidate the law which prosecuted not less than 200 people over for 150 years. 

Further in the case of Justice K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India, the Supreme Court ruled that the right to privacy is a fundamental right and that human autonomy is an integral part of the right to privacy as it also includes the sexual orientation of an individual. And finally, in the historic landmark case of Suresh Kumar Koushal in 2013, the five-judge bench held that right to privacy is the part of the right to life and this fully applies to the LGBTQ community and after a long battle this community got their rights and justice when the courts decriminalized homosexuality.

Decriminalizing homosexuality has a major impact on the attitude of the society and families of the people belonging to the LGBT community. It has attempted to change their perspective to bring acceptance in society. There is more awareness about their rights through education and counseling as a result of which they have become fearless and more confident about their identity. 

After the final judgment, the stereotype that existed in society has gradually changed and homosexuality is no longer a punishable offense. It led to a positive change in the society with a greater appreciation for love and respect for the choices of individuals. There are still many challenges that the LGBT community has to face but the biggest challenge ahead is same-sex marriage. Though there is steady growth in the country regarding the acceptance with further amendments can be made in favor of this community. The decriminalization has made the society supportive of this community helping them to live their life with respect and dignity.