LGBT Rights- Still a distant dream for India
The term LGBT is a basically a culture shared by the people with ‘queer’ sexual preferences and gender orientation. The term stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender, the four categories which earlier came under then name of ‘Gay Culture’ but later was renamed as LGBT Culture as everyone thought that the the word ‘Gay’ alone could not symbolize the whole community. The LGBTs have always been a matter of discussion in a constitutionally liberal country like India.
The whole thing about this culture started in 1800’s when India was under the British regime. The intercourse between the same genders was declared as “unnatural” and was then recognized as a criminal offence under Chapter 16, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. In 1947, India gained full independence but as there were higher and more important issues to be addressed then, LGBT still remained a criminal offence and no one payed heed to it. In 1949, the Indian constitution was framed and provided for the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of caste, creed or gender, yet homosexuality remained a crime and transgenders remained unrecognized again.
After almost 50 years of independence, this issue saw a ray of hope when Naz Foundation, an NGO, filed a petition in Delhi High Court seeking legalization of homosexual intercourse between consenting adults but the high court rejected the petition by saying that the petitioners had no locus standi on the matter. The foundation went to the Supreme Court which then told the high court to review the matter again.
Finally, after a hassled journey from 2001 to 2009, the cause saw the light of the day when the Delhi High Court stated in its judgement that criminalization of the consensual sex between people of same gender violates the some fundamental rights namely right to dignity, right to life, right to privacy and right to liberty. So the Delhi High Court passed a judgement which provided to end the discrimination based on sexual orientation as the court said that the word 'sex' not only symbolizes the intercourse but also stands for gender and the discrimination based on sex is an offence in India. Meanwhile, the government was also willing to act robust against the discrimination of transgender people and with much efforts, Rights of Transgender People Bill was proposed in 2014 before the house. The Bill was supported by all the parties and with mandatory amendments, it was passed in 2015 which finally ended the discrimination that was being done with the transgenders. They got the reservation for education, politics and other basic services that are required for sustainable development.
While Rights of Transgender People Bill was supported by all, the High Court's decision received mixed reactions from the public. At one side, the activists, liberals and the members of LGBT community celebrated the decision calling it a landmark in the history, and on the other side, the communal elements of the society called it a disaster. A Public Interest Litigation in Supreme Court against the High Court's decision turned the tables again when Supreme Court stated that it was the Government's responsibility to think over such matters and courts have nothing to do with it. A bill seeking the issue's completion was proposed in the parliament and was rejected in the vote. The Supreme Court again called for a review by the government and the issue stood still after that.
While transgenders got their rights through the Rights of Transgender People Bill, the reforms for ending the discrimination of 'Gay Community' still hangs in the middle of the way where it is still being reviewed by the government, unfortunately.
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