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After Supreme Court ruling, LGBTI Indians vow to continue fight for equality

After Supreme Court ruling, LGBTI Indians vow to continue fight for equality

LGBTI Indians celebrate landmark Supreme Court ruling. (Photo: Facebook)

LGBTI advocates in India vowed to continue the fight for equality after a landmark Supreme Court ruling decriminalized gay sex.

India’s estimated LGBTI population of 78 million celebrated on Thursday (6 September) the scrapping of 150-year old legislation that criminalized gay sex. So did others around the world.

India’s Supreme Court ruled parts of Section 377 of the Penal Code were unconstitutional and violated rights to privacy.

Campaigners have tried to abolish a colonial-era law since the 1990s. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code punished gay sex with up to 10 years in prison.

According to rulings from Supreme Court judges, Thursday’s judgement also enshrined LGBTI equality.

But, not everyone in India welcomed the ruling. And importantly, campaigners said decriminalization in the courts was just the beginning of equality for LGBTI Indians.

Not everyone was happy with the landmark decision

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said it would support the court’s decision. But at least one party member criticized the ruling.

‘This verdict could give rise to other issues such as an increase in the number of HIV cases’, member of parliament Subramanian Swamy told CNN-News18.

Right-wing, Hindu nationalist party, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, reportedly maintained homosexuality was ‘not natural’.

‘The Indian society did not accept such relations and this issue needs a social and psychological solution’, the party said, according to First Post.

English-language newspaper for Indian Muslims, the Milli Gazette, also reacted negatively. It labeled the move ‘a step towards self-destruction’.

‘The real work stars now’

Parmesh Shahani of Godrej India Culture Lab told Firstpost: ‘While we celebrate this victory, we must acknowledge that we have a long road ahead to make India truly LGBTQ-inclusive.’

‘Civil society needs to come together to convert the intent of the Supreme Court verdict to action. The real work starts now. ‘

Somya, transgender activist and BJP politician also warned implementation was the real challenge .

‘With this historic judgment, I feel like we can use this a source of pressure to force governments to act’, Somya told Firstpost.

India’s gay prince Manvendra Singh Gohil warned: ‘Even though legally we may be free, we are not yet free socially’. ‘We will have to do a lot of effort so that society also accepts us’, he said.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) urged the Indian Parliament to  review and repeal other discriminatory laws.

‘Even a landmark decision by the Indian Supreme Court cannot alone end the discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity’.

The United Nations said it ‘sincerely hopes that the court’s ruling will be the first step towards guaranteeing the full range of fundamental rights to LGBTI persons.’