Justice Chandrachud: Disagree with Beatles song, need a little more than love

Supreme Court judge, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said the presence of queer individuals in public spaces must be the norm rather than the exception and structural changes as well as attitudinal changes are essential.

Noting that said the Beatles famously sang “All you need is love, love; Love is all you need”, Justice Chandrachud said: “At the risk of ruffling the feathers of music aficionados everywhere, I take the liberty to disagree with them and say – perhaps we need a little more than love.”

On Tuesday, the British High Commission had hosted a reception to mark the fourth anniversary of the landmark judgment striking down Section 377, which criminalised homosexuality. Justice Chandrachud, one of the five judges who wrote the judgment, spoke on “Beyond Navtej: The Future of the LGBTQ+ Movement in India”.

He said structural changes as well as attitudinal changes are essential. “Equality is not achieved with the decriminalisation of homosexuality alone but must extend to all spheres of life including the home, the workplace, and public places,” he said.

He said while the decision in Navtej was momentous, “we have a long way to go”.

Justice Chandrachud said queer people have historically been denied the right to access public places, let alone enjoy them and the presence of queer individuals in public spaces must be the norm rather than the exception. He emphasised that the accomplishment of this simple yet crucial task would breathe life into the decision in Navtej (2018 judgment) and it is not merely the black letter of the law that these changes must take place in, but in the heart and soul of every Indian.

“At the heart of personal liberty lies the freedom to choose who we are, to love whom we will, and to live a life that is true to our most authentic selves, not only without the fear of persecution but in full hearted joy and as equal citizens of this country,” he underscored.

Justice Chandrachud added that as we near the fourth anniversary of Navtej, “it is my sincere hope that we will be able to live such a life – I have no doubt that this hope will one day be a reality”.

He said atypical or unconventional families must be able to enjoy all the legal and societal benefits that their more traditional counterparts do, be it through marriage or otherwise. Justice Chandrachud said our very understanding of the family unit must change to include the myriad ways in which individuals forge familial bonds.

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