New Delhi: In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court on Thursday decriminalised consensual sex between homosexuals and read down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra termed the part of Section 377 of the IPC which criminalises gay sex as irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary.
While the main curative petition had been filed by Naz Foundation, the historic judgement also came on a batch of writ petitions filed by dancer Navtej Jauhar, journalist Sunil Mehra, chef Ritu Dalmia, hoteliers Aman Nath and Keshav Suri and business executive Ayesha Kapur. This group of petitioners, all members of the LGBTQI community, filed the petition in 2016.
Jauhar is a Bharatnatyam performer and choreographer who has gained international repute through his art. He runs dance schools in Delhi and Chennai and is a Sangeet Natak Akademi award winner. He became one of the petitioners against Section 377 in 2016.
A reputed journalist and former editor of Maxim magazine in India, Mehra also worked on television productions. He and Jauhar were in a long-term relationship for over 20 years and even collaborated to create Studio Abhyas.
A celebrity chef, Dalmia owns a popular Italian restaurant in Delhi. She is also a television host and hosts a cookery show on Indian TV.
The 67-year-old Hotelier is known in the industry for co-owning Neemrana Hotels with his partner Francis Wacziarg. The two turned their passion for heritage sites into their work and preserved these old buildings as hotels. In 2014, after being in a long-term relationship for 23 years, Nath lost his partner Wacziarg.
“If not now, then when?” is the mantra for hotelier Keshav Suri, scion of the late hotel magnate Lalit Suri and Executive Director of the Lalit Suri Hospitality Group that owns the Lalit chain of hotels. Suri is openly gay and filed a fresh writ petition with the Supreme Court this year in favour of decriminalising Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. “I am a proud member of the LGBTQ community in India and I have no qualms in admitting that I have been in a committed relationship with an adult male for a decade. Though my personal life is not up for discussion, I felt it was important to highlight the fact,” Said Suri, who recently got married to his partner in Paris.
Kapur was among the early entrants into India’s booming e-commerce market. The business honcho has spoken about being scared of revealing her sexual orientation and overcoming that fear.