How’s life after Section 377?
In 2018, many nations made landmark decisions to change discriminatory laws and bills. The same year, the Supreme Court struck down Section 377, which criminalized same-sex relations. This was a long struggle of rights, The ruling revised its earlier decisions, reading down Section 377 to exclude sexual intercourse between consenting adults. The chief justice observed how its existence perpetuated discrimination, led to stigmatization, criminalized transgender persons, and denied them dignity, personhood, and basic human rights. Justice Chandrachud noted that “[g]ays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders have been relegated to the anguish of closeted identities”. The law was flawed because it disproportionately impacted the community, and the criminalization was based on stereotypes of socially determined gender roles. This ruling is not a complete removal, but it is still a landmark one.
How have things changed for better?
Human rights violations happen all over the world. Post-judgment, it provided a legal and somewhat social space to recall the equal dignity and worth of every person, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
What needs to change?
Understanding the judgment, its implications and ensuring implementation need to be worked on. The increased violence after it needs to be addressed. Recognizing, responding to and addressing crises and violence hold the key.
I would suggest several actions by state and non-state actors:
- Work with police to inform them
- Work with state governments to inform them
- Work on social acceptance to ensure implementation
- Protection under the law should be a priority; anti-discrimination laws need to be worked on
- Cyber-safety needs to be addressed as there were numerous homophobic posts and jokes on social media
- Work with religious groups to address homophobia
- Work on making laws gender-neutral and inclusive
- Work on political advocacy
Narrate a few social challenges faced by you.
Like most transgender persons, I have dealt with stigma, harassment, violence and sexual assault.
How did you overcome them?
Since the judgment, there is progress. LGBTQ persons and allies continue to work toward a future without discrimination in business and beyond. The work culture at KPMG encourages me to be visible, bring my whole self to work, and stand up for the rights of all. The allies reassure me that they are standing up with me.