Today was a historic day for many Indians as our Right To Privacy was defended by the Supreme Court. For the LGBTQ community, it was even bigger.
The apex court of our country concluded today that a person’s right to privacy was a natural, cherished, inseparable right which cannot be taken away by the government. This right begins at birth and extinguishes at death according to the Supreme Court in a judgement today.
To summarise, here’s what the SC just declared to India’s LGBTQ citizens:
• Privacy is a fundamental right.
• Sexual orientation is an essential attribution of privacy.
• Discriminating against anyone based on sexual orientation is unconstitutional.
• Sexual orientation is a part of one’s identity, and it is the government’s job to protect all our identities.
While this right was not absolute and subject to certain ‘reasonable restrictions’, the rights of the LGBTQ communities were upheld with the SC declaring that ‘ Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy. Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual.”
The Supreme Court further held that “Equality demands that the sexual orientation of each individual in society must be protected on an even platform. The right to privacy and the protection of sexual orientation lie at the core of the fundamental rights guaranteed by Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution.”
Previously, the SC had disregarded LGBTQ rights on the basis that the majority of India were yet to accept homosexuality as a part of society. This was contradicted by this judgement from the SC who said ‘popular acceptance’ cannot be the basis to disregard rights.
In the latest judgment, the nine-judge bench held that both the arguments in the earlier verdict could not be taken as valid constitutional basis for disregarding a claim based on privacy under Article 21.
“I am over the moon,” said Anjali Gopalan, founder of Naz Foundation that petitioned the HC in 2001 against section 377.
Members of the community hailed the verdict and said it would boost their fight against a 2013 top court judgment – popularly known as the Suresh Koushal verdict – that left it to Parliament to scrap section 377 that bans “unnatural sex”.
There’s still a pending challenge to 377 in the Supreme Court, but today’s ruling means it should be overturned by Parliamentary legislation in the months ahead.
This has been a heady week for the Supreme Court and as always, Twitterati killed it with their thoughts.