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OPINION | I Dream of a Just India, Where Every Citizen Has the Right to Choose

In my writ petition against the Union of India, I have challenged Section 377 stating that the criminalisation of consensual sexual relationships between adults goes against the Constitution of this country.

Keshav Suri |

Updated:April 27, 2018, 12:16 PM IST
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OPINION | I Dream of a Just India, Where Every Citizen Has the Right to Choose
Image for representation. (Reuters)
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My recently filed petition in the honourable Supreme Court has garnered some attention. Today, I aim to clarify doubts and put rumours to rest.

In my writ petition against the Union of India, I have challenged Section 377 stating that the criminalisation of consensual sexual relationships between adults goes against the Constitution of this country. I believe the right to choice of sexual orientation encompasses the right to life with dignity and the Right to Privacy. Since these are fundamental rights according to Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, the discrimination based on sexual preference is a violation of the Constitution itself.

We need to grow and mature as a society. 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.

Being a member of the community, I have first-hand knowledge of the trials and tribulations faced by them in India. Over 56% of white-collar workers in this country have complained of discrimination.

In fact, India’s homophobia is hurting its economic growth. According to a World Bank study on economic cost of homophobia, India’s estimated loss to GDP is between 0.1% and 1.7%. The report goes on elaborate that depression owing to homophobia leads to lower productivity and output. India is also missing out on the power of ‘pink money’. Described as the purchasing power of the gay community, the Western World is benefitting from this sub-economy, which contributes almost $1000 billion to the US economy.

While the economic impact of Article 377 is massive, its social impact prevents the LGBTQ community from accumulating wealth.

At The Lalit Hotels, we kick-started a #PureLove campaign in September 2017. The idea was to give a platform to people from all walks of life to share their experiences and seek emotional support, when needed. As a part of the campaign, we strived to provide employment opportunities to the LGBTQ community. The campaign imbibes the United Nations Guiding Principles on Tackling Discrimination against lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals, transgender and inter-sex people. The mission is to create an inclusive environment for people of the LGBTQ community in and amongst corporate India. Through this campaign, we have rehabilitated 10 people belonging to the community and work to help numerous more.

My idea, while filing the petition, was to represent a collective voice to address a vital human right. The fact that hundreds of people belonging to the community have contacted me since filing of the petition reflects the gravity of the situation.

I dream of a just India, where every citizen has the right to choose.

(The author, Executive Director of the Lalit Suri Hospitality Group that owns the Lalit chain of hotels, has filed a fresh writ petition with the Supreme Court in favour of decriminalising Section 377. Views are personal)
| Edited by: Aditya Nair
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