The Respectable Indian Queer Unmasked

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09/28/2020

In 2018 the Supreme Court decriminalised consensual same-sex relations between two adults in Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India. The judgement was deemed pathbreaking and celebrated as a historic milestone for queer liberation in India. All queers are equal; but some queers are more equal than the rest. Section 377 had varying impacts on different queer communities. One, it provided legal sanction to existing social stigmatisation. In a largely homophobic society the existence of a legal provision criminalising one’s very existence was a threat that gave leeway to extortion, exploitation, and violence. Two, it allowed for the legal victimisation of individuals. The wording of Section 377 criminalised all carnal intercourse “against the order of nature” wherein “penetration is sufficient to constitute carnal intercourse”. While this is primarily in reference to gay men, Section 377 has been conflated to make lesbians, cross-dressing individuals and transgender people legally vulnerable in the past.

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