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With Supreme Court Rethinking its Decision on Section 377, Hope Spreads Among Kolkata's LGBTQ Community

The relook comes months after some judges on a nine-judge Constitution Bench, which had held Right to Privacy as a fundamental right, denounced discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Prema Rajaram | News18.com

Updated:January 9, 2018, 6:17 PM IST
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With Supreme Court Rethinking its Decision on Section 377, Hope Spreads Among Kolkata's LGBTQ Community
Image for representation only.

Kolkata: A fresh ray of hope sweeps across Kolkata's LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) community, thanks to the Supreme Court's decision to rethink its 2013 verdict on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalises same sex relationships.

The court had then read down a 2009 Delhi High Court order de-criminalising gay sex following an appeal by religious groups and said that it was Parliament's job, and not the judiciary, to decide the issue.

Evidently, all eyes of the community in this city, as perhaps elsewhere in India, would be set on 2 February when the Constitution Bench will review its 2013 judgment.

The relook comes months after some judges on a nine-judge Constitution Bench, which had held Right to Privacy as a fundamental right, denounced discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Section 377 of the IPC refers to 'unnatural offences' and says whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to pay a fine.

Indroneel Mukherjee, fashion designer, feels Kolkata has remained more open to the LGBTQ community than most other cities. He considers the city’s exposure to films, literature and drama as among the biggest contributors behind the broad-minded approach of its people.

Mukherjee, who grew up in Delhi, feels more at home in Kolkata. "I don't feel uncomfortable here as I don’t get so many strange looks for the way I dress sometimes. Kolkata is more adaptable to any new thing compared to a lot of other cities. Mumbai and Delhi might have a sizable number of LGBTQ in the fashion and the film industry, but when it comes to the general public, Kolkata is more accepting," he said.

Dev, fashion designer at "Dev r Nil", thinks that the older generation too have become more accepting towards their children's sexuality. "The law does not allow gay couples to get married, have children and buy property unlike straight couples. Also the criminal nature of the law worries parents. If Section 377 is decriminalised, our parents can breathe easy," he said.

Many feel that it is this assurance of safety that the scrapping of 377 from statute books would bring and give the City of Joy its biggest reason to accept the LGBTQ community as citizens, who have in their own way added to Kolkata's cosmopolitan nature.

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| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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