2015: Understanding the Impact of the Supreme Court judgment on Section 377 on LGBT communities

Section 377 of The Indian Penal Code (IPC Sec. 377) criminalized consensual anal sex by deeming it unnatural and “against the order of nature”. The British introduced this law in 1860, based on Victorian morals, to criminalize any “not procreative” sex. On July 2, 2009, The Delhi High Court read down IPC Sec. 377 on grounds that it violated Articles 21, 14 and 15 of The Indian Constitution which grants every citizen right to life” and “equal opportunity, regardless of religion, race, caste, sex or birth. This landmark decision was reversed by The Supreme Court of India on December 11, 2013, on grounds that the law was “rarely used and did not affect the ‘miniscule, so-called’ LGBT community’s rights”. According to the research done by Indian NGO Naz Foundation and Lawyers Collective, IPC Sec. 377 is used as a tool by lawmakers and anti-social elements alike to harass and coerce the LGBT community (Lawyers Collective, 2010). Reinstating IPC Sec. 377 could lead to increased cases of violence and harassment of LGBT as they now stand at risk of prosecution under IPC Sec. 377.

This study was conducted two years since the Supreme Court of India reinstated IPC Sec 377. HST had conducted a study two years after Delhi High Court’s landmark judgment to understand the impact of this positive ruling on LGBT communities in Mumbai. In the same light, we wished to understand the level of impact that the verdict delivered by the Supreme Court of India reinstating IPC Sec 377 has had on lives and situations of the LGBT communities in Mumbai via a four-tiered approach similar to that adopted by HST during the first study that assessed the impact of reading down of IPC Sec 377. The following were the objectives of the study:

  • To assess knowledge of LGBT onThe Supreme Court’s verdict on IPC Sec 377 and its implications on consensual same-sex behavior.
  • To understand how reinstating IPC Sec 377 has affected the sense of well being, safety, support from stakeholders, instances of stigma, discrimination and violence, changes in societal support.
  • To understand whether The Supreme Court’s verdict on IPC Sec 377 has alteredthe impact created by Delhi High court judgment and has forced more  LGBT members back into the closet, what impact has it had on people who came out openly in society and accepted their sexuality post the Delhi High court verdict, and whether people perceive the change as detrimental to their coming out process
  • To document how LGBT individuals have been able to use their knowledge of the changed lawin negotiating with different stakeholders such as immediate family, friends, lawmakers, police, etc.
  • To gauge the extent of crises experienced or known of by the people surveyed and their perceived risk before and after The Supreme Court’s verdict on IPC Sec 377

 

Study duration: One year

Current Status: Completed

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