'I Am What I Am, So Take Me As I Am': What Judges Said in Their Landmark Verdict Against Section 377
A five-judge Constitution bench upheld the right to equality of the LGBTQ community, saying majoritarian and popular views cannot dictate constitutional rights.
The LGBTQ community celebrates after the Supreme Court verdict against Section 377 in New Delhi on Thursday. (PTI Photo)
In a landmark judgment on Thursday, the Supreme Court decriminalised consensual sex between homosexuals and read down Section 377 of the IPC.
A five-judge Constitution bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra held that the colonial-era law would not apply to sex between consenting adults, irrespective of their gender. The section will, however, continue to apply to bestiality and sexual acts without consent and those involving a minor.
The bench, which also comprised Justice RF Nariman, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra, upheld the right to equality and in four separate but concurring judgments, gave a fresh lease of life to the LGBTQ community in the country.
Here’s a look at what the judges said in the historic judgment:
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra & Justice AM Khanwilkar
“I am what I am. So take me as I am. No one can escape from their individuality.”
“Majoritarian views and popular views cannot dictate constitutional rights. LGBT community possesses human rights like all other sections of society. Equality is the essence of the constitution. 377 is arbitrary.”
“Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is [a] violation of freedom of speech and expression.”
"Sexual orientation is one of many biological phenomenon. It is natural and no discrimination can exist. Any violation is against freedom of speech and expression."
"Morality cannot be martyred at the altar of social morality. Only Constitutional morality exists in our country."
"Denial of self-expression is like death"
"Freedom of living is a face of life. Sustenance of identity is a filament. One defines oneself. No one can escape who they are"
"We have to fester tolerance and peaceful coexistence, we have to respect them who they are and not ask them to be who they aren't."
Justice RF Nariman
“Homosexuals have right to live with dignity. They must be able to live without stigma.”
“Homosexuality is not a disease”
Justice DY Chandrachud
“Human sexuality cannot be reduced to a binary formulation and decriminalising Section 377 is but a first step.”
“Instead of trying to change what is not a disease, counsellors must wake up to these rights.”
“Who decides what is natural and what is unnatural? Can state be allowed to decide? Denial of right to sexual orientation is denial of privacy rights. Courts have task not to allow to push citizens lives into obscurity because of some colonial law”
“A colonial legislature made section 377 criminal…It is an anachronistic colonial law…It has confined a group of citizens to the margins..It rests on deep-rooted gender stereotypes.”
Justice Indu Malhotra
“History owes an apology to members of the community for the delay in ensuring their rights. Section 377 will, however, continue to govern non-consensual sexual acts, carnal intercourse with minors and acts of bestiality.”
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