LGBT community ecstatic with SC’s ray of hope, petitioners remain wary

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New Delhi, Feb. 2 (ANI): The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community on Tuesday welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to keep the Section 377 debate alive by referring the matter to a five-judge bench for further hearing on a curative petition challenging its earlier order.

Celebrations broke out across the nation as the apex court’s ruling came to light, but petitioners in the case maintained a cautionary stand.

“Today the government did not say anything for or against but at least they were silent on the issue. The only opposition came from the Church and the Muslim law board and I understand why that resistance is there. We need to understand that times are changing and the way young people are thinking is also different. We are not asking for the moon here, just please don’t deny the rights of millions of citizens,” Anjali Gopalan, executive director of the Naz Foundation who is a petitioner in the case, told ANI.

She added that religious groups should be able to accept the LGBT people who belong to their community and should not be turned away due to their sexual orientation.

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“Acceptance needs to be practiced by religious groups and they need to rethink the way they are looking at this issue,” Gopalan said.

Echoing similar sentiments, LGBT activist Vimal Bhai expressed hope that the court had batted for a ‘greater and equal’ India and said that the nation could not be bereft of equality no matter how far it went on the scale of development.

“Hope that the court goes for a greater, equal India. But equal India does not mean that you’re hiding some people away from their Constitutional rights. In the court today, Kapil Sibal spoke on our behalf and now we feel that hope has risen again. The world’s eyes are on us now,” Bhai told ANI.

The activists and petitioners in the case were happy with the fact that for the first time they will be able to put their side and view forth for all to hear in an open hearing, which was a first of its own kind.

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“The court said today that this is an issue related to human rights and that it also pertains to the future generations. For the first time it is going to be an open hearing and we can actually put up our side for everyone to hear,” LGBT activist Veena told ANI.

Meanwhile in Chennai, people took to the streets, danced and burst crackers to express their happiness over the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Mumbai and Kolkata also saw similar scenes with the people of the LGBT community celebrating the apex court’s decision.

The Congress has also expressed its approval to the court’s ruling saying that the move indicated towards a positive outcome for the LGBT community.

“This is good that the SC has reopened this issue. It is evident that they want to take it in a positive direction. This is definitely a positive development,” Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor told the media.

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“The Congress has always believed that every person should have the liberty to do what one wants. We have always supported the cause of LGBT community and I believe the constitutional bench will give verdict in positive,” Congress leader Randeep Surjewala told ANI.

Earlier today, the Supreme Court referred the matter to a five-judge bench for further hearing on a curative petition challenging its earlier order.

An apex court bench headed by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur had earlier agreed to hear the curative petition against its December 2013 order, upholding validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalises sexual activities against nature, arguably including the homosexual acts, and a January 2014 order by which it had dismissed a bunch of review petitions.

Meanwhile, the Madras High Court on Monday observed that homosexuality could be a ground for divorce. The court’s observation came while hearing two matrimonial discord cases involving a gay man in one and a lesbian woman in the other. (ANI)

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